Is it OK not to be Happy Sometimes?

For how long have we been told, either on social media, in talk shows, in the surge of motivational books, etc, not to wear that frown but to smile, “Life is beautiful.” Yes, life is beautiful but it can also be cruel. Although we sometimes make the wrong choices and may have caused what happens to us, sometimes, there is just nothing we can do. Life happens. Sometimes things just happen, people happen, and it gets to us. So, is it OK not to be happy sometimes?

I think it is.

A Wall of Smiley Faces?

We are bombarded with the “happy lives” everyone is leading and the successes they celebrate in Facebook posts. If you scroll down the walls of some of your FB friends, it looks as if their lives are one big, amazing event after the other. Everything is rosy, fantastic, just incredible! The best home, the best furniture, the best smiles, the hottest pouty lips, the great office, the great neighbor, great everything.

To be or Not to be Direct?

Although this differs depending on the culture, most of the time we are conditioned to say that all is well even if the world around us is falling apart.

“How are you?”

“I’m fine.” – When you really want to say, “I feel like crying. I don’t know what to do. I need to talk to someone. I feel so lost…” Yep, I’m fine.

Not everyone does that, of course, but even so, with the constant overload of “share your happiness and your perfect life” it often feels as if everyone else is doing everything right and you’re just a big mess, struggling to survive, when in truth the ones posting the “happy stuff” may be struggling as well.

Photo by Sơn Ngọc – on Pexels

Why do we feel the need to show the world that everything is peachy when it is not? Why is it not common to just be truthful and say how you really are?

And what is with the “tough love” that strangers need to dish out on social media when someone sincerely posts a plea for help or describes what they’re going through? Although tough love can on occasion be necessary, be careful when to give it. You often don’t know the full story and therefore you cannot judge a situation, based on one single post.

Sometimes I say that all is well because I don’t want to bother my friends with what I’m going through or they are going through something as well and I don’t want to add to it. I think that is understandable.

However, when you need to let it out or you want to talk to someone, “sucking it up” and claiming everything is great will just make you feel worse.

You can’t Whisk the Rain Away

We all want to be happy and we often forget to enjoy the journey on the way to our destination. It feels fantastic to be happy. Nonetheless, feeling down is OK. Don’t ever feel you have to magic a smile on your face to hide your true feelings. Since when has feeling sad become a thing we should keep away from others? Is it healthy to only show our happy faces but hide our tears?

“Smile, it’s a beautiful day!” “Cheer up!”

Yes, it is, but on some days it gets cloudy, and there’s nothing wrong with accepting that. I believe that it is unhealthy to ignore the clouds and pretend that it is bright and sunny when it isn’t. Only by confronting the clouds – and perhaps confiding this darkness to a trusted ally – can you send the dark clouds on their way.

Christine Duts author website

Final Thoughts

The reason I wrote this down is not because I “feel gloomy”. I feel fine, but I have been thinking about this for a while now. I think that many will agree with me – I hope so 😉 – you can’t force a smile you don’t want to give. (That being said, just the act of smiling makes one feel so much better. I tried it out, it works!)

If you want to protect someone from whatever you’re going through, that is perfectly understandable, and in that case, the “I’m fine” is justified, but if you just want to project a happy face because it is expected, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

All in all, the ones you can share everything with are the ones who love you, the ones who care.

Update – Note (July 10, 2023): I noticed that some people commented on my “being gloomy” or “sad”. I am not sad, gloomy, or depressed :-). I wrote this as a criticism on the constant need of some (or many) to always show their perfect worlds, their perfect happiness when it is not always genuine. If you share happinesss it should be genuine. When we’re dealing with setbacks that may be upsetting, there’s nothing wrong with some honesty about how you feel.

The overwhelming need to always show how well we are doing and how happy we all are makes it nearly a “sin” to show a genuine sadness over something that happened. And that isn’t right.

Tears shouldn’t be kept in. When tears are bursting to flow out of you, then let them! Let them out, because only after they’re out, can you move on and continue living your life. Suppressing sorrow or tears only makes things worse. It’s best to allow the temporary sad feelings to wash over you instead of ignoring them and hiding them behind a fake smile.

6 thoughts on “Is it OK not to be Happy Sometimes?

  1. Tom

    Hi Christine,

    I’m sorry to hear that you feel gloomy and that you feel the need to write about it.

    The way I think about happiness is, it is a decision we make. I decide to be happy as much as I can, unless something really sad happens in mine or my loved ones lives that is.

    The thing is to be happy, but never be satisfied. We can always be better, we can always grow, we can always improve.

    I try to be my best self every day of my life and compare myself to who I was yesterday. When I do that, I do my best to be better than I was yesterday and that helps me to be happy.

    Thank you for sharing such a personal article, and I hope I have helped you a little bit.

    All the best,


    1. Christine

      Hi Tom,

      Thanks for your comment, but I am not feeling gloomy and I didn’t feel the need to write about this. I basically wrote this to criticize society’s indoctrinated need to always show a bright, happy side even when they feel the exact opposite. I think it is healthier to be more honest about one’s feelings, with the right people, of course.

  2. Chas

    Hi Christi
    I agree with you. It is “ok” not to be happy sometimes. I get a bit upset recalling some of the mistakes I made in the past. It does help us work through the issue and accept it for what it is. As long as we don’t continue to beat ourselves up, it is fine. But, just for awhile, because it is something we are “choosing” to do. Life is more pleasant when we smile, than when we frown. I personally don’t like to dwell too long on negative things that make me feel bad. But, I also know, sometimes things happen that make us feel bad. It hurts! We need a little time to truly accept what has happened. But, if we dwell on it too much, we can get depressed. Depression is not easily shaken, and could require some professional help to deal with. I know, I have been there. That is a dark place to be. Don’t suffer with depression, get some help.

    1. Christine

      Hi Chas,

      True, we shouldn’t dwell too much on past mistakes or negative things. Sometimes, when things go wrong, though, it is ok not to show the ever happy side to the world but just be honest and open about how we really feel. The constant need to show our happy side – even if, or especially if, it’s not genuine – kind of makes sadness or being upset at a temporary setback something we should hide, and we shouldn’t hide those things. They are normal reactions and feelings.

  3. Joseph William Stasaitis

    Great article! I agree that forcing a smile while feeling certain emotions is not advisable. While it’s essential to experience the feelings and not ignore or deny them, it is also good to realize that happiness is a choice that can be made after recognizing and experiencing any uncomfortable feelings. This allows us to change focus and use our power in the present moment to emerge from those feelings. It also helps to discover the underlying beliefs that were responsible for those thoughts and feelings in the first place. All the best. You have a wonderful style of writing.

    1. Christine

      Thank you, Joseph. Very well said, thank you for your thoughts!

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