You Can't Smile Your Way To Happiness

It’s hard to believe that grinning like a shmuck won’t somehow make you more at ease with the horrors of existence, but Science has come around to the idea that it won’t.

Which one are you? Photo: wewiorka_wagner

It turns out that forcing yourself to smile will not somehow trick your brain into being happy, because even though it sucks and is sad and it can’t see the good side in anything most days, it’s not stupid, your brain. It’s not going to say to itself, “Oh, my mouth is smiling now? I guess I’ll just forget that everything is terrible and only getting worse, that anything I do is a waste of time and that life is filled with lies and emptiness! Zip-a-dee-God-damn-doo!” Have you ever been told to smile because you were looking sad? Of course you have. Did it ever cheer you up? Of course it didn’t. It’s bullshit, like every other thing people tell you do to so that they don’t need to contend with your discomfort at how horrible life is since they are just barely managing to keep themselves from confronting it in their own miserable minds.

That said, there are indeed ways to trick yourself into thinking that everything might be okay. They are, in descending order of usefulness/enjoyment: drugs and alcohol, sex, sugar and fat, imagining how peaceful things will be when you’re dead, spending time with friends (this is sort of a repeat item since it requires alcohol for maximum enjoyment), extended stays in exotic locations, listening to songs you like, savoring the failures of your enemies and the occasional bout of exercise. You will note the flaw in all of these strategies: They are unsustainable and they eventually do more damage to you than the benefits they accrue, particularly exercise, which I only put on this list because I don’t want to hear from the people who are always like, “Have you tried exercise? Exercise will change your life, let me tell you how it changed mine” and on and on for another three hours at which point you are ready to take up running just to get as far away from them as fast as possible.

Anyway, the point is this: Happiness is mostly an illusion, but it is a difficult one to trick yourself into believing. It’s mostly something that happens to other people, and they only have access to it for the same reasons that some people never floss but still have perfect teeth: good genes. Really, it’s your parents’ fault you’re so unhappy. Maybe knowing that will cheer you up a little.