I am sure that you have heard the advice that you should “fake it until you make it”. It often refers to confidence but is used with other positive emotions as well including happiness. The idea is that if you ACT happy you will become happy – a self fulfilling prophecy.
I have to admit I’ve tried this at times. Guess what? I felt like a phony. Essentially I was lying to myself. And because I knew I was lying, I felt even worse about myself because integrity is something I value.
Also pretending to be happy when you are not is HARD work – mentally, physically and emotionally. Talk about anxiety – you have to be conscious of every word, gesture, facial expression and tone of voice. It’s not quite as easy as putting on a happy face. One of the reasons for burnout in service industries is the need to act happy and upbeat all the time even when you don’t feel that way. Sociologists call it emotional labor or emotional work. As part of my job is customer service, I can attest to how much WORK it is some days.
The most insidious part of “fake it until you make it” is that you don’t DO anything that will actually make you authentically happy. You are so busy focusing on your “act” that you are totally unaware of the happy things around you.
Confidence is built on one little success on top of another. Happiness is the same way. Have you noticed that your “one little thing” has become more than one thing now that you are more attentive to the things that bring a genuine feeling of happiness? There is no need to fake it when you are finding actual happiness. Keep up the good work!