Trying to fool people you’re happy when you’re not is a self-sabotaging practice; you’re deceiving nobody and denying yourself time, space, and opportunities to heal and grow. Ostentatious displays of imaginary “happiness,” especially following tragedy or heartbreak, does not reveal true happiness: it exposes your cowardice, your unwillingness to sit with the pain, the heartache you’re confronting.
Even though the pain of tragedy or heartbreak is unsettling, one should never resort to facades, misrepresentations. Sit with your pain in private first, and when you’ve given yourself the proper time, space, and opportunities to heal and grow, then you can publicly share your authentic happiness or demonstrable progress towards it.
Loss, betrayal, dishonesty—all dimensions of the human condition we face. How we respond to them determines how we emerge from them. Do you want to emerge more liberated, more empowered from them, or do you want to live imprisoned in self-doubt, eternally vexed by your toxic response to them?
Fake it until you make it—a vain, otiose philosophy—spoils any chance you have to advance beyond unhappiness. In fact, this fallacious and disingenuous philosophy is rooted in unhappiness.
You cannot experience emancipation when you’re committed to shackling yourself to unhappiness. The previous sentence evokes Audre Lorde’s powerful statement of resistance to enslaving one’s self to the control of an enemy: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” Unhappiness cannot be eradicated with the tools of unhappiness.
In the midst of your storm, find hope, hope in what’s possible beyond the storm. The storm can be ephemeral; the storm can be surprisingly enriching. Your commitment to truth in the storm will lead you safely on the other side of it. On the side of the storm is joy, peace, and gratitude.
Joy is enduring and more fulfilling than happiness. To arrive usher in happiness, one must begin a serious gratitude praxis, a praxis that ultimately leads to joy.
When you embrace gratitude, a life of gratitude, you enjoy the beauty of life: you savor victories and effectively process disappointments. Disappointments are natural human experiences, but we should never live in fear of disappointments; we should live in expectation of one thing—the good.
A spirit that expects the good, found in the heart of a person committed to permitting herself or himself to receive the fruits of truth, love, and justice, is necessary to maintain joy and peace.
Allow nobody or anything to displace you from joy and peace.
Always remain honest with yourself.
Although in this late stage of capitalism, where Guy Debord’s notion of “the society of the spectacle” is decidedly more pronounced, you may feel compelled to project a phony public image, which leads you to becoming nothing more than a spectacle, love yourself enough to give the world your truth. If you’re not happy, then don’t display a happy facade.
Give the world your best—even if your best is a temporary period of unhappiness. The world knows you’re human; don’t try to be a robot, falling prey to self-deceit.
Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison