You don’t have to feel happy

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You don’t have to feel happy

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When I got the calendar for the New Year, I was about to say, “This year is almost over already.” But then I thought, “It’s still 2016!”

As I grow older, time seems to move faster. But this year has been strangely long. There have been so many unexpected changes and shocks domestically and internationally that 2016 will be remembered as a long and slow year.

I am not the only one to think this. Many people around me say, “I wish this year comes to an end soon.”

Some may say nothing will change just because 2016 becomes 2017, but the year’s end is the time when we can be forgiven for dreaming of an overly optimistic future. Our new year’s resolution may be broken after a few days, but now is the time to have hopeful dreams and bold plans.

This year, there are many people who feel more despair than hope, have more anger than joy and struggle with misfortune. The impeachment and economic slump cast a net of depression over Korean society, and the social network encourages users to show off superficial happiness. People increasingly feel they are the only ones who feel unfortunate.

The age of healing is over and the cruel time of “hurtfully candid facts” has arrived. Rather than offering consolation, people find it more helpful to hear straightforward criticism.

Fortunately, not all facts are painful. There are many ways to find consolation from facts as we wrap up one year and welcome another.

We should acknowledge that we have poor standards of happiness and success and reset our norms.

Professor Yoon Dae-hyun at the psychiatric department of Seoul National University’s Gangnam Center notes the irony of someone who makes happiness itself a goal yet can never find happiness along the way.

When your goal is happiness, a nearly impossible objective to reach, you can never feel happy before reaching the goal. That’s why we have all felt unhappy while seeking happiness.

The same approach can be applied to success. If your standard of success is a great accomplishment in the future, you will feel you have failed despite constant sacrifice of the present self.

But if your standard of success is the valuable work you do today, success is very close. Paradoxically, if you allow yourself to feel that you don’t have to feel happy, you will actually find happiness and comfort.

JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 26, Page 35


*The author is the lifestyle news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

AHN HYE-RI


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