Everyone is taught from childhood that stories always have a happy ending. It’s as if the world enters into harmony on that final page where everything becomes beautiful and the ending is ideal.
Couples enjoy a long and happy life ever after, problems are solved, and evil people and things magically disappear.
But it’s important to remember that the original fairytales by Charles Pierrot or Christian Anderson weren’t as safe as those presented to us by Walt Disney. The princesses of those early stories didn’t always wind up married with a kingdom at their fingertips.
Nevertheless, the minds of both children and adults need balance, and this idea that everything will go well and end in eternal happiness is a part of that.
It’s time to be prudent, realistic, and above all to resist idealizing certain concepts, like emotional relationships. In today’s article we invite you to reflect on this subject.
The best stories don’t have to have a happy ending
No doubt you have more than one memory that, in spite of not having the idyllic happy ending, you still consider to be worth living and having as an experience.
That relationship that brought you so many tears when you were a teenager and was so hard to overcome, but that also taught you things…even today it lives on in your memory as a magical thing.
That’s just one example—we all have experiences that didn’t go as we expected, but we don’t regret them.
After all, the “best” stories don’t need to have a happy ending in order to be great stories. Great histories.
Be happy without the story
Tal Ben-Shahar is a psychologist and professor at Harvard who is also the renowned author of several books that teach you how to be happy.
Also read: Be yourself and be happy
As strange as it might seem, the idea of giving people tools that help them achieve more as human beings is relatively new, but it has always generated a lot of interest.
- Dr. Ben-Shahar, through books like “The Pursuit of Happiness” and other publications, is a good example of this, as he considers how people look for answers to existential voids using positive psychology approaches.
- He emphasizes that it’s important to not put too much weight on happy stories or have the misconception that you’re aspiring to achieve eternal or permanent happiness.
- The first thing you should avoid is feeding high expectations, as well as seeking perfection. It’s better to be more humble, realistic, and above all to appreciate what you have now.
- One mistake that many people make is focusing all of their happiness on “getting what they want” (a life partner, the perfect house, a dream job).
- Dreaming is never a bad thing, nor is cultivating expectations, but it’s best if you do so with a little perspective and with your feet firmly planted on the ground.
Fairytale stories (high expectations, fantasies, mistaken ideals) are prisons for personal growth. If you don’t accomplish what you set out to do, the shadow of unhappiness settles over you.
So…what if you settle for a little bit less?
The best time is now
Another trap people often fall into is focusing all their dreams and hopes on tomorrow.
When you obtain one thing, you can do something else; when you find the perfect partner, you’ll finally feel whole; when you take that vacation, you’ll be happy and calm forever.
We recommend reading: Appreciate people now, not when you lose them
This kind of reasoning isn’t appropriate or healthy for your emotional well-being. You can postpone tasks, activities, and appointments, but your happiness should never be put on the backburner.
- Your best opportunity is now. Instead of thinking you’ll be happy when and only when you find the perfect partner, try to be happy with who you are now, what you have with you.
- You don’t need anyone else to feel good. Feel good now, just with yourself.
- Instead of always thinking about the upcoming vacation as that time when you’ll truly find time to cope with your stress, look for simple moments of peace at the end of every day.
It will be therapeutic and healthy.
To conclude, stories and fairytales are an excellent resource to stimulate the imagination of children and adults alike, but adults should understand that in order to be happy, it’s a bad idea to seek that magical perfection that this kind of literature promotes.
The greatest moments of life won’t always end well, but they’re wonderful moments that deserve to be lived—and life, after all, is just moments.