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You probably can’t go to a store or hop on social media without a reminder to “stay positive”, “smile” or “create your own happiness”.

And although we absolutely need those reminders with the negativity, stress and fear surrounding us daily, sometimes they may not be helpful.

You see, life is full of ups and downs. There is a constant ebb and flow. No one’s life is 100% happy all the time. We do create our own happiness but sometimes things happen that create sadness, grief, fear, anxiety, stress, anger and other emotions.

We don’t truly appreciate happiness without knowing sadness. We don’t value strength unless we’ve been through pain. We can’t share compassion without knowing our own struggles and vulnerability. Sometimes we don’t know love without loss. Just imagine how much more we appreciate the sunshine after days of rain...

We all go through things at various times. For example, happy celebrations such as weddings, baby announcements and graduations bring so much joy and laughter! But while we are going through those exciting times, we may have a friend who is experiencing losing a loved one, going through a divorce or experiencing illness. We then may go through a challenge ourselves while a friend is experiencing positive achievements in her life.

Think about a time that was difficult and what it taught you. These life experiences give us opportunity to show compassion as a parent, child, friend, or co-worker. It gives us a chance to help others through things we may have gone through ourselves.

We don’t learn from always being happy. We all have had some type of challenge or lesson in life that gave us a chance to appreciate small moments of joy because it can all change in an instant.

There are some amazing people who learned how to turn their challenges into incredible gifts. For example, there are people who survived cancer and started support programs to help others. There are families who have lost children and have created non-profit organizations to assist other suffering families. They could have sat back and wallowed in their pity but they found the motivation and determination to make a difference while they still can.

These people turned deep heartache and pain into a purposeful journey, which is truly inspiring to witness. Without their struggles, other people wouldn’t be able to experience the lessons and hearts they have to share. They understand that life can be too short and they desire to show others how to feel fulfilled and find joy whenever possible. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to turn their difficult times into an uplifting experience. There are many people who do not know how to deal with their deep emotions in a healthy way through tough times. They may not have been able to ask for help or work with a therapist when it was most needed. They may have held their feelings in, becoming depressed and trying to numb their pain with alcohol, drugs, overeating, etc. Or sadly, committing suicide when they could no longer handle the pain.

Many of us are not comfortable showing our emotions besides happiness. People ask us how we are and we automatically respond, “Good, you?”, rather than possibly telling the truth. And although we may not feel it’s necessary to tell everyone our feelings and problems, it certainly doesn’t help to constantly hold them in.

We shouldn’t only be allowed to share positives within our lives. It should be okay to be open and honest when we are struggling too. Sometimes this opens up a deeper conversation where another person may feel understood rather than thinking you have the perfect life!

As human beings, we have emotions. Pretending everything is fine and not feeling them can make it even worse. Being strong and in control isn’t always a good thing. Never crying or speaking your truth isn’t doing anyone any favors, especially you. When you’re sad, grab some tissues and cry. When you’re angry, punch a pillow. Feel your emotions. Let them flow through you rather than holding them in and feeling like you’ll eventually explode. So many people don’t express their emotions and then find themselves getting very anxious or depressed. It may even cause physical symptoms such as migraines, insomnia and pain.

Just imagine if we surrounded ourselves with people who shared more often. It would allow each of us to have a deeper level of understanding of others and ourselves. Everyday someone is experiencing grief, heartache, financial struggles, sickness, pain, transitions, or exhaustion.

What if by being truthful about our own life experience gave someone else permission to release their emotions rather than experiencing guilt and shame?

After all, according to Pierra Teilhard de Chardin, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

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