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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Zunter

Why I Stopped ‘Happiness-Shaming’ People

Have you ever listened to someone talk about how happy they are and felt resentful towards them?

I have — and I think at some time or another we all have.

I call it happiness-shaming.

It’s critical, sabotaging thoughts or words put forth in order to minimize either our own happiness or someone else’s happiness.

In our society, it seems that if you’re not consumed with work, stress, or complaining about being “busy,” you tend to have the feeling that you’re considered lazy or somehow not deserving of feeling really, truly good.

We often shame each other for taking vacations, finding new love, or trying something new. Sometimes the shaming is subtle — maybe a sarcastic or slightly resentful comment here and there — but it’s happening all around us.

We may claim we want to be happy and desire everyone around us to be happy but then when someone else reaches that level of satisfaction or joy we often feel jealous or bitter. We may find ourselves lashing out at people with malicious guilt trips or even find ourselves the subject of this resentment from others when we are doing well in our own lives.

Many of us are simply addicted to the feeling of misery, helplessness, and irritation.

In conversations with others, it often becomes a competition as to who has the hardest life or the worst problems. There always seems to be much more pleasure in voicing our gripes than our gratitude.

Have you ever expressed a complaint to someone only to have them turn it around and talk about how they’ve experienced something far worse? You probably have, and it’s likely you have even been that person on the other side as well. It’s a vicious cycle of comparing and commiserating.

Of course, it’s natural for human beings to want to share and relate to one another but the way in which we are doing it is frequently of a negative nature.

Since people can be so dynamically connected, negativity spreads like wildfire. It’s easy to be in a bad mood and bring others down with you. But in the long run it’s not good for your body, mind, or spirit. In addition, if other people continually feel terrible when they’re around you, they might not want to be with you so much anymore.

I catch myself happiness-shaming all the time. I do it to myself and to others. And I’m done.

I decided.

From now on I’m going to be more mindful about the way in which I’m responding to others and to my own self-defeating thoughts. It is possible to think positively. It may take more effort, but it’s certainly worth it.

You may think you have nothing to be happy about at this very moment but there’s always something to be thankful for and you can start from there.

Work your way up on the positive thought ladder starting from gratitude and making your way up. It takes time but every step is another closer to cleansing bitterness, envy, and bad attitudes.

It’s no secret that quite often the reason why we respond to others being happy in a negative way is that we ourselves are not in the place we want to be or perhaps the people around us are trying something we are afraid of.

But maybe the key to being happy in your own life is to genuinely accept that good things are happening to others around you and for you to stand up and clap for them even if it isn’t happening to you.

The sayings, “fake it till you make it,” or “Smile till you feel it” could be legitimately awesome ideas here.

Try it. Try being happy for someone else when they exhibit joy or tell you about something they’re proud of. Instead of happiness-shaming try feeling genuinely pleased for them. They shouldn’t have to feel ashamed of their good feelings and neither should you.

What do you have to lose? A bad mood?

More from Michelle: 4 Ways You’re Ruining Your Relationships — And How to Fix it

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