We're actually a little dumbfounded by this one, mums!


Whenever we think of the pursuit of happiness, we really don't consider negative emotions. Let's be real - they seem pretty antithetical to being happy.


However, Harvard psychologist Susan David said that accepting your unhappiness is, in fact, the key to finding true happiness.


She told Business Insider's Shana Lebowitz, "When we have a particular goal around happiness, what it can lead us to doing is to marking every disappointment, every setback, every concern as being proof that we're not happy enough or almost proof that we've failed in our attempt to be happy. And it's just not a realistic way of living."



She says that instead of forcing yourself to feel like you're happier than you really are, you should 'show up' to your emotions.


"What I mean by 'showing up' is stopping any struggle that you might have within yourself about whether you should feel something, shouldn't feel something, should think something, shouldn't think something, whether it's a bad thought or good thought," Susan said.


In her book Emotional Agility, Susan observes that people who are entirely focused on being happy usually end up being less happy than everyone else.


She cited a study that found that people who read about the benefits of happiness before watching a film about happy people felt less happy than other study participants who read something unrelated before watching the film. 



Reflecting on this, the psychologist said. "When people are very unhappy and are focused on thinking positive, what it can actually lead them to do is to then push difficult thoughts and emotions aside."


There's only so long you can run from your negative feelings before they catch up to you, though.


In fact, Susan says that we should instead pay extra attention to these unhappy emotions because usually, they are trying to tell us something.


What upsets us can indicate what we value in our lives. 



"That information is really, really important. So what happens when we focus too much on being happy is we actually push aside critical information that helps us to learn and adapt in our lives. And that helps us to forge a life that is connected with our own heartbeat," she stated.


Exploring these negative feelings can help us see what irks us, and in turn, help us see what adjustments we may want to make in our lives. 


"In a weird way, acceptance is a precursor to change," the psychologist astutely noted.


Much of this is linked to mindfulness, which encourages us to pay attention to our physical, mental, and emotional experiences without judgment.


Remaining open to all of our thoughts and feelings can help us lead a more authentic life. Rather than your end goal being happiness, it's just being in general.



"Our contract with life is a contract that is brokered with fragility, and with sadness, and with anxiety," Susan explained. 


"And if we're going to authentically and meaningfully be in this world, we cannot focus on one dimension of life and expect that focusing on that dimension is going to then give us a well-rounded life."


It's such a relief to hear that it's perfectly fine to be frustrated, sad, disappointed, or any number of other negative emotions.


Instead of glossing over these unhappy feelings, we can accept them in order to find genuine happiness.