“Hey, how are you?” says a friend who I haven’t seen in a long time. Without thinking or hesitation, I reply, “Good! And yourself?” How many times have we answered this question with “good” “fine” and “well” without actually meaning it? How many times have we answered this question without giving legit reasons on why we were good, fine, or well? How many times have we lied, saying we were good, fine, or well knowing we were going through a tough time?
A term that fits well for moments like this is called fake happiness. Fake happiness is real. Too many times we get asked a simple question of how we are, and without answering it truthfully, we throw out one of those three words. Why? Is it because we don’t want to complain? Is it because we don’t think the person who is asking doesn’t care enough to know how we are? Or maybe it’s because we’re private and like to keep things to ourselves. Whatever the reason is, we have to start expressing how we honestly feel, to the right people at the right time.
For years I have struggled with fake happiness. I could be hurting deep down inside, and no one would have ever guessed. There would be days where I would bawl my eyes out, and within those next ten minutes, I would be laughing and joking with my friends without them having a hint that behind this smile was a broken girl. Fake happiness is one of those “skills” you unconsciously get good at. You wipe away your tears, put a smile on and tell yourself, “I’m okay.” Why did I do that? I think I did it because it’s what’s easiest for me. I don’t have to tell people everything that happened, and have their two cents added.
Also, feeling as if no one understands me is another reason why I did it. Experiencing tough times can have anyone feeling and thinking that they are alone. What helped me get out of those negative thoughts were being reminded by friends that I wasn’t alone, and that I could come to them for assistance. It turns out; I was experiencing more pain trying to keep everything to myself, rather than expressing how I felt. Eventually, I started reaching out to individuals who wanted the best for me. Those who know how to listen actively, and provide feedback when necessary. I noticed once I started opening up, I no longer had to say “good.” It felt good knowing someone else already knew how I felt and that I didn’t have to be alone.
The Cause of Fake Happiness
I believe fake happiness occurs because of a lack of uncertain unconditional love. We go through our struggle, and when it gets too hard for us, we shut down trying to deal with it on our own. We don’t take the initiative to reach out to people who care about our well-being. Without realizing it, we shut them out but expect them to notice a change in us. A change that we have hidden within ourselves so that they are not aware. And then BAM! Out of nowhere, we get the feeling of “no one cares about me because if they did XYZ.” That feeling alone can put up a wall, forcing us to guard ourselves against the vulnerability that may be released if a person chooses to figure out what’s wrong.
A Cover Up
Personally, my fake happiness protects me from being vulnerable and looking weak. To my family and friends, I have always been known to be strong and confident without a care in the world about the negative situations that try to affect me. When certain situations bothered me, and I’d reach out to tell the ones who said they cared, they would respond back with, “You’ll be alright. You’re strong” as if I didn’t know that already. What I needed was support, for someone to sympathize with me. After not receiving that, I concluded that it was pointless talking about what was bothering me. Telling people that “I’m good” was more convenient than letting people know what was going on, especially if they were going to respond with the same speech I gave myself before I socialized.
Expressing true Happiness
As I grew mentally and emotionally, I’ve learned it’s better to express true happiness. The results were a clear mind, great support system, and not having to fake my happiness. My healthy expressions changed my actions from shutting people out. My point is this; fake happiness comes in all forms. It may be in your strong friend, a vulnerable friend, or those who may seem like they have it all together. It may even be the person who is asking, “How are you?” Because of this, I created a solution for the person answering the question, and a solution for those who are asking the question. If you’re the person answering the question, first decide if the person has good active listening skills and is trustworthy. You wouldn’t want to share your information with anybody. Once you feel you can trust them enough to share your information, start opening up little by little. There may be times where you don’t want to share, no matter if the person is a close friend or stranger. In these moments you can say, “I’m ok, but I’ll be better soon” that way you’re speaking positivity into existence.
Sometimes people will ask what’s wrong, a simple you don’t want to talk about it right now will do. If you’re the person who is asking the question, dig deeper by sympathizing. Ask your friend why they are good, fine, or well. Let them know you’re there if they ever wanted to talk about anything. The best thing you can do is make yourself available when the time comes for that friend to elaborate on the “good”.
To the person who is currently in the fake happiness stage, it doesn’t last forever. Always take the time to honestly express your feelings to someone who you know will listen. In Galatians 6:2, it says to “Carry each other’s burdens.” We are not meant to go through our struggles or emotions alone. We don’t have to fake happiness, instead, let’s strive for true happiness.