Pretended Happiness

It’s been days since so many things around me are completely out of my control, and I’m absolutely N O T  H A P P Y. All the frustrations were so ready to snap out of my system, and the more I let everyone in the house know how frustrated I was, the more irritated I became because I felt like not receiving the response I wanted.

Now I think about it, perhaps my husband and my children didn’t know how to react in this kind of situation. They were clearly able to see I’m not happy – oh, I was actively making sure it’s obvious for them to see! From my words, my sighs, my fuming threat, and here and there my angry snaps. But still they didn’t do as I wished!

Being grunchy for days and not seeing results made me think: I can’t keep being angry like this. I don’t get what I want from people around me, and I was so unhappy that all depressing thoughts never stop lingering in my mind and make me even more frustrated. I prayed, I read, I tried to shift my mind to happy thoughts, but it was to no avail – I was so controlled with my unhappy thoughts.

So I decided: Let’s pretend to be happy.

I began to pretend that I was a happy mom. That I had everything under my control. I pretended the children made me happy, I pretended to enjoy washing the dishes, I pretended I was a kind wife smiling all happy to her husband.

Somehow things began to look a little bit brighter. I prepared the dinner and called my children lovingly to come to the table, bring a plate of pasta upstairs for my husband and said I needed to go for a moment for grocery. This grocery thing had killed my mood earlier, but now I pretended that this is going to be fun! I drove my (husband’s) crappy car and pretended I was a chic lady driving a Porsche.

The pretending game started to be entertaining! Whenever I stopped my car to give way to other cars I waved my hand to the other drivers – and they waved back! And I felt like laughing because those waving made me happy! What silly!πŸ™ˆ

I walked through the alleys of the supermarket, collecting my groceries like a queen and paid them, entering the house calling my children to help unload the groceries and I pretended that they would listen to me. And they did! Together we put everything to their places and somehow all the heavy moods seem to be lifted up.

I wonder what has happened. Does pretending to be happy work? I googled articles about pretending to be happy and found many articles giving pro and contra opinions about pretending happiness. Yes, the internet is my reference.πŸ˜…

Some articles say that pretending to be happy is wrong. We have to be truthful to our feelings and our thinking. But I think, we simply can’t be truthful to our feelings all the time. After all, feeling is also something we can’t rely on. Feelings can be irrational. Feelings can be mistaken. Feelings are often too complicated to be defined and often we lose our rationality from being stirred in feelings and emotions.

My bad feelings were all valid: I was tired, I was frustrated, I was overwhelmed by the amount of responsibilities. But these feelings were too strong, too dark and covered up any good things that do exist together with the bad things in my life yesterday. It was like a dark curtain, hindering me from seeing that I still have things to be grateful for.

Of course pretending is not being genuine, and being fake is tiring and degrading. But I think we can’t only be truthful about our negative feelings about things and people and not doing anything about them. We have to accept our negative thoughts and in the same way actively find solutions to them. But accepting them and feeding them by thinking about them all the time is like making the monster of unhappiness even bigger and soon enough it’s uncontrollable.

By saying I pretend my happiness, I was actually trying to picture myself in another situation than where I was. I remember one TV interview with the victim of Auschwitz – one lady shared her experience of how they tried their best to keep some fun alive in the camp. She said they made a game of every stupid things they could think of, one of them was a competition who’s having the most beautiful breast – in the middle of thousands of death!

Pretending give us the opportunity to go out of our current circumstances by the power of imagination. By doing so, we shift our focus and energy into something else – in this case, something better. But of course not all pretending is good.

I saw many people struggle with depression and there was a viral video I saw on the internet how a lady warned people of the danger of hidden depression. Her late husband who looked just so happy in their social media accounts was actually very depressed, and at the end he took his own life. Leaving people with confusion because he looked super happy!

While pretending gives you energy, pretending costs a lot of energy too! I’d like to differentiate two kinds of pretending: the one you do on your own to lift up your mood, and the one you do for others to impress them. The one you do on your own serves only as a shifting to your thinking. Sometimes we just need some push to shift our thoughts from negative to positive. Pretending can be one way to do it.

But pretending to be “someone else” in order to impress others doesn’t bring you anywhere. So many people are tired and exhausted because they feel like they need to constantly show their best in front of others. Ten years ago this was not so difficult – we just met people outside our homes, at our school or office. Or the time we shared together with neighbours or some people at church. But now it’s all a different world. We’re constantly showing at least one side of our lives, not only for people nearest us, but for the whole population, even for people from the other part of the earth!

The internet and social media have made a showcase available for our lives to be seen by others. We polish our photos on Instagram and post the best ones on Facebook, to let people know we’re content and happy. Some people take many shoots for one single picture and edit it so much until the reality is almost completely hidden behind the filters. We often take the pretending games much too far than needed. We’re afraid if people find out who we really are. We want to inspire, we want to be recognized.

That kind of pretending doesn’t make us happy – it makes us exhausted. We need to be truthful to whom we are in front of others, but at the same time be able to shift our state to a better one when it’s needed. It’s scary to know that others might laugh at our shortcomings, but being ourselves when we have to face others is always the best policy.

My pretending game yesterday has somehow cleared the dark air that hung in our family. The situation is still pretty the same – my husband is still sick, my kids are still a handful, I’m still very tired. But pretending to be happy has reminded me that I am indeed happy, I still have a warm house to live in, a healthy family, money to spend on our necessities, and a loving God who is always there waiting for me.

Today I’m happy. And it’s not a pretended happiness. Today I’m genuinely happy.❀

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