The piped music at the supermarket where I was shopping yesterday included Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy”. Just hearing the tune triggered memories of 1988 when I was going through a very rough time, romantically.
McFerrin’s song was topping the charts and seemed to always be playing on radio stations everywhere. I glommed onto the song like a drowning man to a floatation ring tossed out by a lifeguard. I bought a copy of the tune and played it whenever I fell into a funk. Eventually, I became tired of the CD and filed it away in a drawer. Pretending to be happy turned out to be just a band-aid treatment and not a cure. I actually had to face the reality of my life.
Just acting happy for awhile only made me temporarily feel happy. It was not a healthy, viable long-term solution to an underlying problem. At least the burst of rainbows and unicorns put the situation in perspective. I saw the need to work on a resolution of the situation so I could move on with life.
Sacrificing self-responsibility by pretending to be happy was not a good life strategy. To act happy could easily morph into avoidance and denial. Perhaps this is one reason why I was able to see the superficiality of the happy happy pill being prescribed by McFarrin’s catchy ditty.
To act happy is a good temporary recess from the school of life. We don’t advance to the next grade if we spend all of our time on the playground. Feigning happiness is not the effective way to address serious issues that need direct action.
To act happy as a long-term strategy is an effective way we can sabotage our efforts towards genuine happiness. This is true in matters of romance, family, friendship, and work. It can even be more isidious than simple procrastination because the pretense enables us to completely ignore the issues that need serious work. In the end, unhappiness is further served.
Pretending life is wonderful causes conflict and tension between what one knows is reality and what is fantasy. The energy needed to maintain the façade ultimately becomes draining.
To avoid pain and unhappiness in the moment means not wanting to put in the time and effort to resolve issues. Authentic happiness does not result from escape to constant pleasure. Intentional attention and work on the issues yields a more healthy balanced life. Of course, people with serious issues should seek out the help and advice of a licensed professional counselor or doctor.