You Might Have to Be Happy

From a talk by Tim Jackins1 at the Southern USA Teachers’ and Leaders’ Workshop in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, November 2013

You have to decide that you are worth fighting for. You have to decide that you are worth facing anything for, and that you belong here with us—not because of what you did or what you will do, or any relationship, but simply because you are one of us, because you are human.

Every human being is worth every fight. If you see a little toddler running toward you, you know that you would do anything to preserve that life and those opportunities. Why do you think you are any different than that little toddler? Why do you think you are worth any less? You can’t be.

There is no way to draw lines between us that makes any sense at all. We are all one in this existence. We are all human. There is no usefulness in drawing distinctions, trying to separate us. That’s what oppression does, and it has to be thrown out and not accepted. You are worth fighting for. You are worth facing anything for. You are. I don’t know of anyone who was told that, or who had that anywhere in her or his mind. In an oppressive society, the messages are all the other way—that you are a small bit of nothingness, and hopefully you can be useful. That’s it.

What’s wonderful about your being human is your mind and what it can do all by itself, whether it’s connected with others or not—just the miracle of the mind that you have. You are worth every single struggle. You have to decide this. You have to make up your mind about it. I’m sure that you can say the words, or maybe you can, but actually looking at their meaning leads you into conflict with a lot of distresses that were put on you. It’s a good set of battles. But you need to make up your mind that you are worth fighting for—otherwise, heading into those battles is going to be really hard.


Many of us haven’t stopped trying, even though we have no hope. My version of it is that I have no hope of success and I don’t care. I’m simply going to. That’s it. I’ve decided. You have probably done something similar, set your mind rigidly in some way. Now we get to go back and challenge that. And the challenge to the bitterly-taking-life-forward is that you might have to be happy. It might be required of you—not as a self-indulgence but because that’s what human beings look like without the distress. If you are trying to be human, you don’t just get to struggle to be human. You actually have to try to be human.

You have to be pleased with the challenges we face. We have a lot of them; a lot of things are destructive and oppressive and have to be changed. But we are in better shape,2 and in a better position, to change them than humans have ever been before.

We don’t have to wait until every single battle is over to be pleased or to understand that we are going to win. We have a lot of work to do, and it should be interesting and pleasing to do that work together. There is a challenge here: you might have to be happy. It’s going to take some discharge; I can see that from your faces. We’d better have a mini-session—three minutes each way. The phrase you get to use is, “I might have to be happy.”

Well, that sounded good. Apparently you had something to say. How soon will you forget? This is chronic material.3 Your mind is saturated with it all the time. We wake up in this material, and it usually goes on and on, with few interruptions. Every so often something happens that snaps us out of it, and it’s a good day. “Hey look, sun!“

This is something we shouldn’t do alone, because we won’t remember. We won’t even remember to bring it up in the next session. We will go back and work on the usual things. They do need work; a lot of things need work. But a chronic unawareness of this material leaves it unworked on, and plaguing us and holding us back.

This is not a criticism of the way you have had to develop your life. Some people feel criticized when they’re challenged to change old rigidities. This is not a criticism. You have done amazingly well with the distress in place. The question is, what would you be like without it? If you didn’t just settle for “better than I have ever seen” or “better than my folks had” but tried to see what you—you, this perfect example of a human being—could be like if you got more slack?


I think human beings start out happy to exist and come out looking for someone else like them, who is happy with their arrival but also pleased that they themselves exist. However, they come out to us. Sometimes we can be excited for short periods, especially at the arrival of a new human. Sometimes we can show little snatches of being happy, but in general we can’t. We often hope that young people will pull us out of our material. We do this rather than trying to meet them halfway, trying to be as pleased to exist as they are.

You see young ones try and try, and look and look for some other aware look coming back at them. And when they find it, they hold on to it for a long time. Children keep trying for a long time. One of the sad parts of watching children grow up is that at some point they stop looking to see if anybody else is out there. Actually, it isn’t that they give up entirely; their looking just gets hidden under the distress.

You still look, but not when anybody knows you are looking. You’ve been pushed to where it has to be secret. You probably don’t even think about what you are looking for, but you watch faces. I suspect you still hope for a face out there that will show what your own mind was like when you got here and were hunting for contact, looking out and trying to catch someone’s eyes. If somebody could have just looked back and simply nodded, you would be using that memory, that contradiction,4 in every session now. But it wasn’t possible for that to happen. Society had been too hard on people for too long. Nobody had the slack to be there in that way for the arrival of a young one.


One way of looking at this is that we’re trying to get back what was taken from us in those early years, deciding to not accept the limitations that the accumulation of distress in society and our families put on us, deciding that we won’t accept that as permanent. It’s not permanent.

You are one of the best things that has ever happened in the universe. You are one of the most complex, interesting, interactive—whatever word you want to use. You are it. And, as I have said, you are a perfect example of us. It doesn’t get better than you. It simply doesn’t. You should be really pleased to exist, and most of us aren’t. We can fight to exist, we can fight against injustice and take things on,5 but to be simply pleased that we exist doesn’t cross our minds.

You could be happy to exist no matter how much work we have to do. No matter what the harshness is, the fact that you exist is such a wonderful thing. That something like us exists anywhere is just lovely. This is why we can watch little babies lie there and do nothing for hours and be thoroughly enthralled. Look, they are breathing. Oh, did you hear that sigh? The little curl of the lip—that’s what I look at on babies. The shape of the mouth before distress gets there, the curve that is without tension. It reminds me of what I must have been like. It is entirely interesting and fascinating, and it should be. It’s one of the best things in the universe.

So the challenge is to be pleased that you exist, no matter what. It doesn’t depend on circumstances. It doesn’t depend on anything else. It is your existence. Lots of other things follow from it, but the simple fact that you exist is so wonderful.

You can see in some children that they are just happy that they exist. They don’t worry about it. They don’t think about it. They don’t have long-range plans or obligations. They are just happy when they open their eyes.

I don’t know why it should be any different, ever, for us. We have lots of interesting and hard things to do, and lots of old hardships to discharge on. But that doesn’t change the fact that we are us; we are that way still.

So another quick mini-session on the possibility of being pleased to be alive.

1 Tim Jackins is the International Reference Person for the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities.
2 “In better shape” means in a better condition.
3 “Material” means distress.
4 Contradiction to distress
5 “Take things on” means face things and do something about them.

Last modified: 2014-10-07 19:20:13+00