When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them.

~ Rodney Dangerfield ~

Be Happy or We’ll Slap You

December 11th, 2011 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 17 secs

Okay everybody, be happy on the count of three.

“Now everybody, get excited! If you’re not enthusiastic in two minutes, get out! Come on now! Smile! Show us your teeth and make the effort to look happy!”

Have you ever been in a group and been wound up to look excited? Organizations do it all the time. Live TV show audiences are told on cue when to clap, cheer, boo, and laugh. Church service coordinators fire up and enthuse with rousing songs, clapping, and excitable arm waving. Camp leaders, corporation seminars, and multilevel marketing meetings all aim to do the same thing. Get people feeling happy by motivating and generating enthusiasm.

And what’s wrong with that?  Don’t we benefit from being inspired and enthused? Isn’t there something powerful about a crowd, cheering and chanting your team to a happy victory?

To me, it’s a matter of choice. You deserve to pick your poison, as the saying goes, to decide whether you want geeing up or not. So joining an excited crowd of company devotees may be just the thing for one. While, the thought of anyone dictating how to feel would be anathema to another.

Then there’s timing too. Happy excitement isn’t a good fit when someone is suffering deep loss. Denying the validity of their emotions like that, walks over their need to feel. Happy feelings naturally fluctuate. So our different mood states deserve considerable sensitivity to realize and respect.

Personally, I prefer to be the master of my own happy emotions, rather than hand them over to suit someone else’s agenda. I don’t want to be happy and excited because it says so on the schedule. When someone pressures you into being happy or else, you have to wonder about the worthiness of their intentions. Valuing sincerity, I’d much rather see people being genuinely happy less often than people faking happy grins on their faces as some distortion of good will and delight.

What drives this phenomenon? Well control comes in various forms for a range of reasons.  According to many a church service plan for instance, everyone ought to clap and be happy before settling down to the sermon. Political campaign programs also call for happy crowds. Not to mention that we expect people to make an effort to put on a happy face. When they do, it generally makes us feel better too.

Regardless of all the oughts and shoulds, however, honesty ultimately prevails. You can control groups to do virtually anything. But the truth is, it only happens if people prefer it that way. Fake emotions are hard to sustain and plastic smiles drop the moment the show is over. There is the mask and then there’s reality that draws us back.


Human behaviour rotates round the truth. We want to be honest, but we are vulnerable to the various pulls that yank us this way and that. The need to fit in, the desire to be happy, and our secret motivations all tug us away. Yet honesty, though sometimes painful, is compelling. When we are happy simply being our real selves, then life is good. It’s a sure sign that though we tolerate a lot of falsehoods, nothing beats the real thing.  Nobody else can make you truly happy. For that you need the certainty of satisfaction.


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