Here’s the short answer: Because positive feelings are a form of power. And power is all kinds of uncontrollable, elevating, disruptive, expansive, and threatening — to your own fear, and to people who prefer low-risk living.
Pick a message, a legacy, a program: Don’t be too powerful; too sexual; too honest; too loud; too excited, too hopeful. Whatever you do, don’t get too carried away.
Because if you’re, let’s say, “too happy,”… you could make other people feel deprived in comparison, so keep yer happy lid on. And if you do something irresponsible in the name of happiness, then what kind of example does that set for the numb-o-trons? We’d have leagues of irresponsible people quitting all kinds of shitty work and educational systems designed to keep the flock moving to the promise land. We’d leave relationships that have sucked for a long time; we’d break contracts; go back on our word; choose love over mortgages; and lust over rationale.
Tamping down the really positive feelings can have a big emotional pay off. If you’re not too joyful, too positive, too much of the good stuff, you get rewarded with being generally liked. (Insert yawning sound effect.) You get to keep the j-o-fucking-b and the companion in your bed. You get acceptance. Generally.
We push away good feelings because they create constant change — and that takes some stamina.
We push away positive feelings because the light emotions can create a stark contrast to the dark emotions. The joy will expose our sorrow. If we don’t go to the height of our joy, we don’t have to go to the depths of our pain.
Once you experience joy, whether it’s something as simple as appreciating the sharp red of fall leaves, or it’s an incredible orgasm, or it’s the transcendence of deep self love meeting love of another — whatever the form, you’re closer to the power source. Power sources are inherently dangerous. Positive feelings might make you a little bit louder. Maybe blindingly bright. You will be less easy to fool, less likely to settle — you’ll too big for the box. Get big.
Choose the joy. Burn the box. Leave the flock. Go for deeply adored.