Do You Use "Fake Happy" Tactics to Get Through the Day?
When does the game stop and reality take over?
A friend of mine is a master of the fake-happy syndrome.
Always smiling, shaking her head in agreement, and displaying positive body language when interacting with others, she gives the impression of a centered, balanced, optimistic person. By all visual measures, she appears to be genuinely happy.
Until she’s home alone and the mask comes off.
Her behavior isn’t all that unusual. Because at some point in our lives, many of us have been guilty of playing out this same charade — projecting a cheerful guise to shield our lack of enthusiasm or interest.
So how do we recognize the difference between what appears to be an authentic joyful persona and fake-happy syndrome? Is there any way to tell if someone is only happy on the outside?
The answer may be closer to home than you think.
Most of us have discovered that a happy attitude attracts others in a positive way, even if we’re not personally feeling the love.
With practice, we’ve developed a few skills and learned how to change faces and perspective in chameleon-like fashion, depending on the circumstances or person we’re with. And like a well-rehearsed actor in the spotlight, we’re careful not to reveal our true feelings until the curtain goes down.
The point is happiness doesn’t always come naturally. Many of us have to work at developing a positive attitude, because deep inside we’re not even close.
Why? We’ve been conditioned to be cautious, even elusive with our emotions. And the result can be a carefully-crafted exterior that allows us to present the appearance of being happy, even if we’re miserable at heart.
Here’s the uncomfortable question:
When does the game stop and reality take over? Because we can only fake it ’til we make it for so long, and then something has to give.
I realize the idea of “pretending” is nothing more than a temporary ruse until we can switch our minds to take a better, more optimistic approach to real life — a positive attitude we can ultimately adopt easily into the way we actually think and act. And that would really make our lives easier and simpler — because we’d be expressing our honest, perky selves without the need for a shield.
The bottom line is we want to be confident and truthful in our words, our thoughts, and our direction. We have a need to reveal our inner feelings to others, without having to filter every word or action with incongruent behavior. We want to be genuinely happy.
It’s been said a smile is contagious.
Maybe it’s true. In many cases, a smile is the first outward sign of a positive person — one who’s open, curious, friendly, and approachable. Perhaps that initial gesture is the small spark reminding us that happiness can exist in our thoughts and intentions —a trigger that, eventually, instills an uplifting mindset we can offer as a natural representation of our lives.
You’re only a smile away from changing your life. Offer one to people you see and meet. You may be surprised — and delighted — at how many others return the gesture.
Because happiness is in all of us — a gift waiting to be opened and worn.
In health & happiness,
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Jill Reid is the author of Real Life, Discover Your Personal Truth, Life in Small Doses, and Please God, Make Me A Writer. Her books, videos, and newsletter explore life, relationships, health, and personal success strategies for working through the challenges of everyday life.