Happy people fascinate me. You know the kind I’m talking about – the ones who seem to always see the light at the end of the tunnel, who have glasses half full and are just upbeat and fun to be around.
I am not one of those people. I’m coming to the realization that no matter how many books I read or counseling sessions I go through I am just not meant to be one of those people. That’s not to say I don’t ever feel happiness. I definitely do and I certainly get excited for certain things more than I probably should at times. Often times though I will fake happiness to avoid telling people when something is bothering me. I’ve gotten fairly good at it to the point that some people are surprised when they find out just how upset I’ve been inside over something.
I remember an incident where I was crying my eyes out to a friend over my cell phone when the house phone rang. I promptly answered the phone, voice perfectly in tact and took care of the call. When I resumed the call with my friend he was stunned. “How did you do that?” he asked me. “Do what?” I asked back. “Just turn everything off like that.” “I just do” was my response.
I am still trying to figure out how much of a good or bad thing my ability to shut off emotions so easily is. On one hand it enables me to always go to work and put forth my best effort despite anything that may be bothering me. On the other hand it can be quite lonely to harbor so many emotions that no one knows exist.
I think this ability was honed over the years as I grew to realize how very few people could truly tolerate my extreme sensitivity and overemotional state. I lost friends because I “became too much” for them. It just became easier to fake being fine than to risk people not understanding me.
I’ve tried to become an optimistic person. Someone who doesn’t have to fake being happy when they’re not; someone who just tends to be happy all the time so that even when something bad in life does occur they weather the storm without too much effort. A few months ago I read “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Psychology of Happiness” and even put some of the practices into play such as writing in a gratitude notebook. I’ve read many articles that argue happiness is a choice, but the more I struggle with it the more I really believe it is more in someone’s personality than anything else. Sure, we can try to change out outlook on things, but I think some of us are just inclined to be one way or the other.
That’s not to say I’ve totally given up. I believe we can all work at self-improvement and curb some flaws within us. Just don’t expect me to become all sunshine and rainbows one day.