“Lighten Up!”: Salve or Insult

I have heard it said that when anyone does, says, or thinks anything it is for the purpose of feeling better. You might argue that you have done, said, or thought something that indeed left you feeling bad or worse. Still it may be true that the trajectory of our actions, self-expression, and thinking is always pointing to self-confirmation and self-affirmation even if the steps of the journey takes you into and through disconfirming experiences on the way. A human being is in my book a self-improvement event seeking to be pleased with what is or reaching for a better adjustment, circumstance, or environment.

Some people that I work with struggle and suffer deeply. I have found that the condition of personal “ill-being” responds to some discussion and reflection on the person’s sense of gap between what is perceived (consciously or unconsciously) as present experience and expected conditions. When this point of view can be achieved, then relaxing expectation is more possible and serves to lighten the burden. I think that all expectations are relatively inert. Suffering begins when a person attaches emotionally at a sufficiently intense level to what is wanted or needed or to what s/he feels entitled. So, “lighten up” may not simply be a catchy or dismissive comment. It may indeed be a powerful tool for improving well-being.