I am not going to be sad today. I am going to be happy. I will be happy if I have to make myself be happy. I will be happy if it f*#king kills me.
Just like a recovering alcoholic desperately clinging to sobriety, the white-knuckling of happiness is a rough way to live your life. Coercing yourself into being a joy-filled person even when you’re not feeling it is the equivalent of making yourself jog even though you have two sprained ankles because you firmly believe that jogging is the only exercise you should be doing.
Instead of being actually happy, you are using pure willpower to convince yourself that you are happy. You are enjoying absolutely zero percent of your life but, godda**it, you are going to force yourself to enjoy it because being happy is the only possible way to live your life. Being sad is not an option in your world… ever.
So you force-feed yourself “Happy” by Pharrell Williams because you read somewhere that listening to happy music makes you happy and fewer songs are happier than “Happy” and, hell, the title of the song itself is “Happy” and if a song called “Happy” can’t make you happy then you’ll really be screwed on the happiness tip because you need to be happy at all times and…
Happy happy happy happy happy happy happy.
It’s completely understandable to want to be happy 24/7. No one wants to be a Debbie Downer all of the time. That being said, witnessing someone white-knuckle their happiness is painful. Casually asking someone, “How are you?” and them coming back with an energetic and ecstatic, “Great! Really great! I’m in such a great place in my life right now! I’ve never been happier!” is almost as bad as if they had just said, “My life blows right now.”
And you can kind of tell when someone you know is holding on a little too tightly to whatever sort of joy they can find. There is an unfortunate desperation to it that just bleeds into everything they say. The symptoms of white-knuckling the happy are smeared all over social media:
* Declarations of “Life is good.”
* Memes. Lots and lots of memes.
* A monthly proclamation of how lucky they are to have such wonderful friends.
* Continually taking photos of the sunset and posting them on Instagram.
* Addiction to #blessed.
* Any post that starts with, “So grateful….”
The constant effort to be that happy all of the time is simply exhausting. It’s not a good type of tired, like from swimming in the ocean or having really great sex for nine hours straight. White-knuckling your happiness drains you and leaves you unsatisfied because you’re really not satisfied in the first place. So you try even harder to be happy, exerting more energy, and then when that doesn’t work you try even harder to be happy, and pretty soon you are in a vicious non-happy/pretending to be happy/you just might very well suffer from depression/ circle.
Sad to say, every day is not a gift. Sometimes a day is just a steaming sack of s**t stuffed into a larger sack of s**t. And you know what? That’s okay. Let it be a steaming, double-bagged, sack of s**t. You don’t need to tighten your grip on that crappy day and force-feed it happiness, blessed feelings, and good tidings. Go ahead and sit in that crappiness and try to have a better day tomorrow.
We can’t be happy all of the time and trying to beat yourself into blissful submission with the happy stick can only make things worse. There is a big difference between counting your blessings (good) and slapping yourself in the face telling yourself to be happy immediately (bad – very bad). Forced happiness is more harmful, tiring, and time-consuming than just letting yourself be sad. Besides, truly happy people don’t have the time to constantly remind themselves to be happy.
They are too busy being happy in the first place.