gail schimmel

The blog of writer Gail Schimmel: A bit of writing, a bit of parenting, a bit of thinking and some book reviews

The problem with happiness


I’ve discovered the secret of happiness but it’s too irritating to bother.

The secret is quite simple – and every pop psychologist in town will tell you – it’s positive affirmations. If you constantly say things to yourself like “Today will be a happy day”, “I will own my happiness today”, “I am responsible for my own happiness today”, you will actually feel happier. I even got a little psychological lift just typing them. And when someone upsets you or something doesn’t go your way, you say “I can choose not to let this derail me”.

Marvellous. Or, in my case, not.

The thing is, I’ve never had much patience for overly cheerful, optimistic people. I hate inspirational quotes. I could kill people who tell me to “turn my frown upside down” or “smile, it may never happen”. I find people who sign off their emails with a little dabble of cheer enough to make me vomit. I have a severe distrust of people who constantly proclaim themselves happy.

So here is what happens when I try to positive affirmation myself happy.

Me: I am in charge of my own happiness.
Myself: Holy crap, not this shit again?
Me: Well, it worked yesterday.
Myself: Okay fine, go on.
Me: I will own today.
Myself: For real? We are actually saying that for real?
Me: Yes. Stop interrupting. I am my own journey.
Myself: Please excuse me while I vomit. We’re talking journeys now?
Me: Sorry. It was a mistake.
Myself: Maybe you should calm down with the clichés.
Me: Okay, maybe. Should we just be grumpy today?
Myself: That’s my girl.

Now please excuse me while I turn my frown upside down, enjoy the journey and own my own fate.


4 thoughts on “The problem with happiness

  1. I relate to this. Some of us are happy being grumpy.

  2. I think people confuse being happy with pretending to be happy. Happiness is what is on the inside. Positive thinking can work for some things, but not all things and its not for everyone.

    • I actually do find “faking it” works – if I act happy eventually I start to feel it. And positive thinking definitely works. . . it’s just so overbearingly cheerful!!! I tell myself to stop being such a pain in the butt, which kills the happy vibe!

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