Getting My Happy On – Can You Fake Happiness?

Getting My Happy OnAs I walked into church this week, someone asked me if I was “getting my happy on.” The question took me off guard, in part because I had no earthly clue what she meant by “getting my happy on.”  (Can you do that?  Can you fake happiness?)

So I asked her. I turns out, she reads my blog. I blushed, because it’s always a little weird when friends read my blog and learn things about me that way. I’m pretty much the same person on my blog and in real life, I don’t share secrets on my blog that I wouldn’t want my mother to read. I try to be authentic and real and genuine in my writing. I’d like to think I’m just like the “real life me” on my blog, but I”m probably funnier in writing.

Anyway, she was wondering if I felt like I needed to live up to my blog name. Did I feel like I needed to look like “this happy mom” all the time just because that was, in essence, the product I was selling to others. She wondered if I felt inauthentic if I ever was anything other than “this happy mom” or if I felt like I lived a lie on my blog when I wasn’t happy.  I’m actually glad someone asked the question.  It wasn’t simply “can you fake happiness” but a more direct “are YOU faking happiness?”

Let me be clear – I don’t feel pressure to be happy all the time. I don’t worry about having appearing to have a perfect life in any way, shape, form, or fashion. If I’m struggling with happiness, I have no problem discussing it. I admit – I have “momma ain’t happy” moments.

Being happy (better known as finding contentment where you are or finding joy in all things) is hard work. Life throws stuff at us that isn’t pretty. Motherhood is hard (and sometimes dirty) work. Being a woman is stressful and confusing and messy. Anyone who walks around saying they “feel happy” all the time and pretending to be cheerful when they have no right to be… well, they need their empty little heads examined to see if they have any brain cells left.

There’s a huge difference between the transient emotion we call “happiness” and the spiritual fruit of “joy.” Happiness comes and goes. God didn’t promise us happiness. He doesn’t call us to be perky in the face of disaster.

He does promise us joy. Paul doesn’t say to count it all happiness… he say to “count it all joy.” David wasn’t happy that he was in the valley of the shadow of death, but he does celebrate knowing that God was with him as he walked there.

I guess if I was a super spiritual person, I would have named my blog “this joyful mom” or something like that. But I didn’t. I didn’t want to focus on just spiritual stuff. In fact, when I first started writing, I was ambivalent about just how much of my own faith I wanted to share through my blog writing.

Instead, I chose to write about happiness, and all of the messy parts of motherhood. It’s those messy parts that make it a challenge to be happy while at the same time ensuring our happiness. We wouldn’t really be happy with children who obeyed all the time or never made messes. The unexpected joy of their chaos is beyond price, right?

I fully acknowledge that I’m not happy all the time. Yet I also believe that happiness is, to a large extent, a choice. I do believe that there are times when I really should be “getting my happy on.” not to hide my sadness from others or pretend to be someone I’m not, but rather as a deliberate act to change my own mood and choose happiness.

Can you fake happiness?

Absolutely.  I do it.

Does it work to fake happiness?

Yes and no.  If my goal is to pretend to be happy to hide the truth from friends, then no.  If my goal is to mislead myself and deny that I have a real issue to deal with, then no.

But… when I recognize that I’m dissatisfied and unhappy with my life and then decide to “get my happy on” as a way to fake happiness until I really feel it, it works.  When I fake happiness, I still share with friends that I’m struggling.  I still spend time in prayer, talking to God about the subject of my discontentment.

All of this goes a long way to answer my dear friend’s question. Was I “getting my happy on” as I walked into church? Not this week… although I probably did a few weeks ago and I probably will again. This week, I was overjoyed to see friends and gather for worship together as a church family. I was excited to hear what was being taught. I was already happy to be there.

So tell me, do you ever fake happiness?  Does it work?  Do you feel its being dishonest?

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Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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Comments

  1. I say, we fake it ’til we make it! When I was going through PPD, my therapist told me to fake happiness as often as I could because your mind cannot hold two thoughts at the exact same time, so it can help trick your brain into forgetting about the depression for a bit.

    • i absolutely agree! i think the key is being honest with yourself about what you’re doing. it’s not just depression, but also that low-level discontent that comes with endless loads of laundry and toy-pickup. being able to find joy in the midst of the mommy chores is tough – but it is doable.

  2. I fake it sometimes. I find that most people don’t really want to know exactly how I’m feeling. They want me to be happy and pleasant to be around. And I’m fine with that. I don’t want to be one of those people that nobody wants to be around because they’re always gloom and doom. I have a family member who struggles a lot and she carries her burdens for everyone to see. I get weary from hearing about and seeing her struggle. Sometimes I wish she could just put it away for a while and enjoy life. And I feel that the more she keeps it visible, the more it will consume her. If she can just fake it for a while, she might find that it goes away or gets a little better. Maybe that won’t work for her. It does for me. The more I talk about it or keep it visible, the more it consumes me. Putting away and pretending to be fine sometimes makes me fine.

    • i agree that most people don’t want to know the details. and realistically, it isn’t their business. i think there’s an unwritten social agreement to be pleasant and not talk about the unhappy parts of our lives around people we don’t know well. that’s probably for the best! but there need to be a few people in our lives that we are close enough to that we can share our struggle with. we need a close friend we can look at and say “i’m really struggling today” and have them understand what we mean (and know how to pray for us). when we are so caught up in faking it that we can’t share our struggles with others, we lose out on a powerful part of the solution to what ails us. friendship and prayer are powerful antidotes.

      it’s frustrating when the ones we care for are so busy being stuck in their pit that they can’t even try to get out. if you know someone that just can’t stop focusing on the doom and gloom and won’t climb out of the pit, that sounds like clinical depression. i’m not a mental health professional, but my suggestion would be to try and connect that person to a pastoral counselor. the key difference between “having the blues” and true clinical depression is that those who are experiencing clinical depression generally can’t “fake it.” the depression is so all-consuming that they genuinely can’t remember any other way to experience life. when that happens, a little professional help can go a long way in a short time.

  3. Christy J says:

    Nice blog Susan – Keep up the good work!

  4. Susan, you never cease to amaze me! I do agree that times when we feel said or confused, if we put our faith walk on then we can turn it around. I wish I was as articulate as you! What a great article. On question. Was she a blonde and was her hair short or long? Also, u live getting my happy on! Don’t you? Beats the alternative!

  5. One day I was driving my mini-van around town doing errands while kiddos were in school. I was struck with something in my marriage that made me sad, and I started weeping at the wheel. I decided then and there to say to myself,” I choose joy!” Crying, driving and saying “I choose joy”, all at once. Funny. That was 20 years ago. There are days I feel sad, depressed at times, and joyous at other times. But I always steer my heart in the direction of JOY. It results in a clearer head, more energy, and I am happier. No, not in denial, it’s just I refuse not to enjoy my life…so sometimes choosing joy can look like a walk, a warm bath, or time in prayerful thankfulness.And I am a lot more fun to be around than I used to be!

    • I love that! Sometimes, it really is a matter of making a willful decision. Sounds like you made an awesome choice and that it has blessed you immensely!

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