A year and a half ago, when I was in India, every evening I sat outside and discussed deep subjects with my friends. One night, the topic of cheerfulness came up. The prevailing opinion in the group was that we have a duty to be positive towards others. That even when we are having a bad day, we should make an effort to be nice towards others, making them feel good.
My reaction was that… it’s bullshit. I thought it’s a dishonest approach. I thought that by not expressing my feelings at a given moment, I am disregarding what is best for me and doing something to my detriment. At the time, I liked the idea that to take care of others. I need to take care of myself first and what’s a better way to take care of myself than being an honest person and expressing how I feel?
I recently discovered that I was completely wrong.
It comes down to this. When we feel bad, it’s usually because our emotions tell us that. That’s why it’s called “feeling bad”, not “thinking bad”. Since our emotions tell us how to feel, how we feel is not directly in our control. And so giving into our feelings and letting them make us act in a given way is surrounding to our weak, irrational self.
I think the much better approach is to take control of our actions, be above what our emotions dictate us and instead, base actions on values and principles. Act like the people that we are striving to become. Because only if we act like our ideals tell us, we are moving towards those ideals.
And for me, possibly the most important of those ideals, is trying to have the best impact I can on others. Not surrounding to my weak, emotional self.