Scallywag

Food, love, career, and mothers, the four major guilt groups.

~ Cathy Guisewite ~

Stop Trying Be Happy

March 19th, 2013 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 54 secs

You don’t have look like a clown to be happy.

There’s something whacky about trying to be happy. It sows the seed for failure straight up.

That’s why it’s better to be genuine about how you feel rather than put on a fake face and false attitude. I’m not advocating being miserable for the sake of it. Just inviting you to feel real and not put on a happy mask to appease people if you can possibly avoid it.

I know this flies in the face of a lot of conventional thinking. As soon as people talk about being happier, you get variations on, “C’mon! Put on a smiley face. Fake it ‘til you make it and everything will be fine. Besides, nobody likes to see you down in the mouth.” 

Well, a lot of people do respond well to a smile, and a cheery outlook is often welcome. But you can’t live a lie without it eating into you. Nor can you really get close to people putting up a front. Strangely, persistently trying to be happy makes you feel anything but.

Consider happiness in two different ways. One is the emotional state, when you feel joy and find it easy to laugh and play. While the other is that state of satisfaction less tied to emotional swings and more to a sense of understanding. This kind of happy state arises from deep fulfillment and that comes from doing what you believe in.

By its very nature, emotional happiness waxes and wanes. You can’t be pinging off the walls and ceiling 24/7, and nor would you want to when you discover:

  • Your entire life savings have gone down the gurgler
  • Your dog just died
  • The house has burned down
  • Your boss is about to explode because you lost a contract, or
  • Your best friend has decided it’s time to move away.

Sad as it seems, it’s okay to feel bad now and then, given it’s part of the normal range of feelings we experience. Happy, as delightful as it is, can’t keep you partying forever.

Enter the second form of lasting happiness. While it lacks the same peaks of elation, it gives you a deep sense of contentment, and that is a very pleasing state to be in.

I spent years exploring this kind of happiness because I wanted to carefully weigh it up to see if it works for everyone in a real world sense. And, you know what? It does.

From a satisfaction point of view, trying to be happy is a kind of sabotage. You simply cannot feel fulfilled being what you are not and lacking anything inspiring to focus on.

Given how many of us struggle to find our own lasting happiness, I wrote “Happy: How To Have A Beautiful Life Now” as a way to give each reader a way to make it happen. It’s not a “step 1, step 2, now you’re happy too” book. That won’t work. Instead, it looks at happiness through situations, and the way we think so you can understand your own approaches.

The more I researched, the more I realized that there is an awful lot of bad advice out there about how to be happy. There are books, courses, sites, sects, corporations, and institutes galore that hype:

  1. Nirvana at 30 paces
  2. The Universe doing it all for you while you lie on the couch scoffing chocolates
  3. Fake, fake, faking it all the way
  4. The hidden secret to being happy, which you can only get once you’ve signed up to an unending money–gouging plan
  5. Happiness through obedience to some exclusive group
  6. Becoming happy by seriously gritting your teeth and really, really wishing
  7. Walking back and forth over hot coals (after all, you never know when it might come in handy)

and so it goes on, and on, and on.

The author of your happiness is actually you, and so it should be.  That’s why it makes even more sense to be genuine, celebrate your individuality with qualities of character, and find as much personal meaning in your life as you can muster.

Skip trying. If you want to be happy in your life, you can.

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