I think he’s right, and not just because, to paraphrase Tolstoy, happy people are all alike while unhappy people are unhappy in their own ways. I think that our society conditions us to play down our happiness. Think about how annoyed folks get when someone is being overly happy – people grumble about it. Gushing about happiness in love is usually met with strained toleration at first, then irritation. We say that a happy couple are “disgusting” together.As a result, when one is happy one subconsciously feels the need to play it down to keep from irritating the reader. We worry that writing in detail about how happy we are will make people annoyed.
On the other hand, complaining has an element of one-up-manship to it, and that makes it a lot easier. Read any random entry on LiveJournal and it will probably be complaints about the writer’s life. We get a lot of practice complaining too, which makes it even easier. People pay attention to us when we are talking about problems. They say nice things to us, try to make us feel better, sympathise, etc.
How much practice does one get with writing about how wonderful one’s life is? Not much. We don’t talk or write about our own happiness much in this society. We complain, argue, fight, etc. Think of politicians – they’re always on about how they’re going to make things better, not about how well things are going already. Ditto the news – it’s always about the terrible things instead of the good ones (unless there are cute puppies/kittens/children involved, but even then it’s kept to a minimum). Happy = boring/annoying, apparently, unless you’re the one actively being happy. We glorify unhappiness.
This makes me want to write a couple of paragraphs every week about things that make me happy. I bet I could write five paragraphs a week about things that make me happy and go a month without repeating myself. Maybe I should give that a try, actually. Anybody want to join me?
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