I heard Jessica Lange being interviewed by Charlie Rose a few years ago and was amazed during their discussion when Jessica said, “I consider myself a sad person.” She said this with a smile on her face and added that she also felt much happiness and joy in her life, but that a big part of her basic nature included feeling sad a lot of the time and that she accepted this truth about herself. Wow. For some reason that has always stayed with me and I think about it all the time. I remember being struck by the unabashed freedom in this point of view. You mean, we don’t have to be happy every minute of the day? It's not a school assignment that we'll get in trouble for if we don't do it really well? Sadly, being happy to me often feels like an obligation, and I go through so much guilt when I’m coming from other places which is a lot of the time. And then, if I even let it slip to the world that I’m not feeling deliriously happy at that second (not that I’m ever really fooling anybody when I’m not), I have to quickly add all the asterisks about how I really AM happy but I’m just in a weird space and I’m so sorry so just give me a moment and I’ll try to get back to happy…wait, it’s not working, what’s wrong with me…no, I promise I’ll be happy in a minute, hold on…yes, I realize how lucky I am and how much I have to be thankful for and that’s why I know I really am happy, damn it, so just give me a second here. **Cue guilt/shame spiral.** I’m now learning that I can have a happy, fulfilling life and still acknowledge my feelings of pain and sadness without feeling ashamed or spoiled or self-indulgent. If anything, it’s only by allowing my feelings of sadness to see the light of day that enables them to run their natural course and dissipate. When I force them underground with all my guilt that I’m doing something wrong, they get stuck there and hang on for dear life since they’re so afraid of being attacked again. And then at those times when I'm feeling so emotionally constipated I think of what Jessica Lange said in that interview and it’s like a mantra to me. And I know that I can only be happy if I stop trying to be happy or thinking I must be happy.