Imagine this: A co-worker breezes into the office one morning, a perky bounce in her step, and announces that she’s engaged. She flashes the sparkler on her finger and spends the next 20 minutes recounting every…single…detail…of how her husband-to-be proposed. What’s going through your head as she tells the tale? Are you genuinely happy for her? Do you offer to help plan the wedding? Or, are you thinking to yourself, “Doesn’t she know that some of us haven’t been so lucky in finding The One? Could she be any more insensitive?“
We see this scenario all the time nowadays, don’t we? At the office. At family gatherings. Even in the check-out line of the grocery store.
And with things like Facebook and Twitter making it even easier to broadcast the details of your life, it can be all too easy to find your own happiness twisted with someone else’s happiness. It’s almost as if your own happiness is dependent on the happiness of another. And not in a positive way, either.
So what is it exactly? Happiness Shaming. xoJane featured a fascinating piece on the scary trend last week. “For a woman, joy must be expressed carefully, in select settings and with trusted friends. Because to express your happiness too wantonly, too ebulliently or widely, is to risk a quick shutdown from those who are not experiencing the same happiness,” wrote Emily McCombs, who received some not-so-nice comments on Twitter after posting just one time about her engagement.
McCombs hit the nail on the head. Exactly. I’ve even, sadly, seen it in the blogosphere, where someone’s happiness has been misinterpreted as boastfulness. And every time I see this, I wonder: What’s the point, really? Why spend so much time tearing each other down? In the end, does it really make us feel better, feel more secure, feel happier to see someone else decidedly unhappy?
Happiness should be celebrated, not hidden. People should feel free — even encouraged — to express it, not made to feel guilty and feel like they have to hide it in shame. Sharing your joy with others, especially with the people you love, doesn’t mean you’re bragging or showing off. In fact, it’s not even that you’re trying to exclude them — it means you want them to be a part of your happiness because they, well, mean the world to you.
I don’t know about you, friends, but I intend to embrace and celebrate every piece of happiness my life has to offer.
What do you think, friends? Have you ever experienced happiness shaming? Do you think it’s human nature, or is that just a convenient excuse? How do you think we can get away from happiness shaming and begin to truly celebrate? xoxo
[Photos via Audrey Hepburn Complex]