Real vs. fake happiness

A new study has concluded that when people fake a smile, their mood worsens.

This intrigues me, because I’m generally a pretty happy/optimistic person and I always thought that if you smile and make the best out of things, your mood will improve. Until a few months ago, that is.

As most of you know, I basically turned my life upside down last summer. I ended just about everything, in some sort of mid-life crisis, went on a two-week roadtrip, and began making changes. (I’m hopefully too young for it to be mid-life, but if it is, that’s all the more reason to take the plunge — time’s running out!) Most people thought I’d gone nuts, and I was often among them. I treaded water for a while, alternating between thoughts of, “I’m freeee!” and, “Oh my god, what is going to become of me?”

I still don’t really know what is going to become of me, but I’ve moved, I’ve gotten a new job, and I’m trying to figure out how to reach a couple other lifelong goals. The move has had its pangs, because I’m further away from friends and I’m feeling a little alone.

Through all the changes and the uncertainty, I had one form of confirmation that I hadn’t gone completely nuts. People told me, “You look happier.” At first I thought nothing of it, because a vacation always refreshes the soul. But as weeks and then months passed, I kept hearing that same message from different people: “You’re happier.”

I never thought of myself as being truly unhappy. Sure, the moments of unhappiness were much more frequent, but they’d gradually snuck up on me. Now I look back and I see myself in that study — I was faking the smiles and thinking everything would be fine. The truth is, I was dying inside.

A friend of mine came across a quote recently by George Eliot: “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.” It’s also never too late to find a way to genuinely smile. It’s good for the soul.

4 Responses to Real vs. fake happiness

  1. You’re right. You weren’t as happy…even seen from a distance. You’re better. 😀 YEAH!

  2. Avatar Janice Black
    Janice Black says:

    Sad that we will not see you every Tuesday and Saturday on our runs but so happy for you!

    Change in life is GOOD!

    Just remember you are loved here and welcome to stay with us anytime you come down. (Even if we live in Elk Grove)

    • Janice, I might take you up on that at some point! The drive really isn’t so bad so I do plan to come on Saturdays sometimes. And you’re welcome to come wander trails and hills!