How To Pretend To Be Happy When You Are Not

Adrian S. Potter
3 min readJun 27, 2022

Because being optimistic all the time can be exhausting.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Everyone wants to become the spirited leader in a crowd of cynics, grin despite the grind of daily life, and be a beacon of light in a society filled with darkness.

But here is a dirty secret that folks rarely mention — it is damn hard work being an optimist.

It takes a ton of energy to remain cheerful in a world overpopulated with malcontents. And despite our best intentions, you cannot always be “on.” It’s simply impossible.

So how can you pretend to be happy when you are not, but don’t want others to know?

First, keep busy and exude positivity, even when you feel the gravitational pull of negative vibes.

People who are active and taking on new endeavors (whether at work or as hobbies) appear to be de facto happy since they appear inspired. If you keep busy, people will mistake your motivation for happiness.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-in-yellow-crew-neck-t-shirt-forcing-a-smiley-look-4584534/

Also, resist the temptation to say anything negative.

If presented with a scenario where your response can be one of many, always choose the most positive.

Turn “this party sucks” into “the weather outside is nice.” Swap “this new project is horrible” with “let’s collaborate and find a solution.”

If you constantly select the more constructive option of two things to say, you will appear upbeat — even if you aren’t.

Bottom line — it is unrealistic to expect to stay happy all the time. Your stores of positivity will eventually get depleted. That’s life. But when facing this challenge, never turn 180 degrees and become an Eeyore.

And no, I am not advocating feigning your smile for a long duration — that would be unhealthy and toxic. But pretending to be okay can work in the short term until you regain your composure.

Bridge the gap between your highs and lows, and you might convince the world that you always have your stuff together. It is a master class in ass-covering.

Stay perpetually busy while exuding positivity.

Avoid negative chatter — both internal and external.

Do these and you will appear happy, even if your joy waxes and wanes like the lunar cycle.

Adrian S. Potter — the antisocial extrovert — is an author, engineer, consultant, and public speaker. When he’s not busy silently judging your beer selection and record collection, he writes poetry, short fiction, and articles on various subjects, including creativity, leadership, and personal growth. Adrian is the winner of the 2022 Lumiere Review Prose Award and the author of the poetry book Everything Wrong Feels Right (Portage Press). Visit him at http://adrianspotter.com/.

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Adrian S. Potter

Antisocial Extrovert · Writer and Poet, Engineer, Consultant, Public Speaker · Writing about self-improvement, gratitude, and creativity · www.adrianspotter.com