I'm a happiness expert. This doesn't mean I am happy all the time. It also doesn't mean I run around spouting positive thoughts and hugging strangers.Happiness gets a bum rap sometimes. Educated people believe that happiness is a sign of lower intellect and creatives feel that creativity is heightened by angst. Virtually everywhere you look you are being told that it's okay to be unhappy.When I first began delving into happiness 20 years ago, I thought that learning to be happier meant that I was failing somehow when I experienced sadness or anger.Over time I have come to see that happiness is always a choice and that it is equally okay to choose happiness as it is to choose any of the other emotions. What I am suggesting about happiness are two things:1) Just because you look happy doesn't mean you are. You don't need to be obnoxiously perky to be happy. (I know, that statement has a whole lot of judgement wrapped up in it AND it's true). I am a really happy person. To the core or my being. I am calm in chaotic times and I take pleasure from the little moments every single day. I don't jump up and down much and I rarely squeal. I don't talk quickly or loudly and I don't use hand gestures that could be mistaken for interpretive dance. There are some people who do all of these thing from their heart, naturally. Then there are others who think they need to do all of these things to embody their happiness. Usually, someone who is trying this hard to look happy might not actually be happy.2) Just because others tell you you shouldn't be happy doesn't mean your happiness is wrong. We are surrounded by rules, judgements, and societal norms. "Death is sad". "There is a time and a place for fun". "Becoming angry when I see violence shows I have morals".All three of these statments sound true. But in some cultures death isn't sad, rather a time of celebration. Fun is internal and can be had at any time and place. Meeting violence with anger is similar to hitting a child to get them to stop hitting. No matter what the popular opinion, if you feel happy then it's okay to be happy.
Happiness labelling can be part of the problem. In troubled times, when suddenly there is hope, it can feel like happiness. In a work situation where we get "in the flow" it also feels like happiness. No matter what anyone tells you if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck and waddles like a duck, it's probably a duck.Science cannot even decide on a definition for happiness. If you ask ten positive psychology experts you will get ten definitions. Is it any wonder that happiness is so confusing?It seems that an abundance of happiness is more of a problem to the people around the happy person than to the happy person themself. Or the person in constant pursuit of happiness who can actually become unahppier as they place an unbalanced focus on being happy.So perhaps, to answer the question "Can you be too happy?" is simply NOT IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BE.Do you have a story about being happy when it felt out of place or do you know someone who oozes happy in a manic kind of way? I'd love to hear your stories about being "too happy". Comment below or email me at tamara @posminds.com.