I’ve been thinking a lot about the post from two weeks ago — about people’s reactions to each other’s pronounced positivity or negativity. In some cases, the very upbeat, cheerful Tigger and the very gloomy, downbeat Eeyore resist, annoy, and exhaust each other, in a kind of emotional tug-of-war, as each tries to make the other adopt the proper point of view.
In the post’s reader comments (which were fascinating), several people argued that they were annoyed by the “fakeness” of a Tigger’s cheer. “No one can be that cheerful all the time,” “It’s unrealistic,” “It’s just a mask,” etc. Often, they acknowledged that some people were genuinely upbeat all the time, which was fine; what they disliked was the falseness of the artificial Tigger. It wasn’t the attitude, it was the “fakeness” of the Tiggerish attitude.
When I think back on people in my own life who seemed to force themselves to be upbeat, who might be considered “fake Tiggers,” I noticed a common thread: many of them were facing a major happiness challenge in their lives. Sometimes this challenge was very apparent, sometimes it wasn’t widely known.
I suspect that, just as Tiggers and Eeyores try to counter-balance each other, and sometimes polarize and irritate and exhaust each other, as discussed in that previous post, perhaps Tiggers who seem “fake” — that is, who seem to be trying very hard to stay positive, no matter what — are trying to offset some source of major unhappiness in their lives.
So, if someone’s stubborn, “fake” refusal to acknowledge the dark side of life is annoying you, consider whether he or she might be struggling to stay afloat, to resist being dragged down completely by someone or something. We think we know people, but really, we usually know very little.
(I know, my use of “Tigger” and “Eeyore” is a bit twee, but I can’t think of another pair of well-known characters who represents this distinction so well. Any suggestions?)
* One of my favorite things about the internet is the way it allows me to see the world from a completely different perspective. For instance, I just spent a lot of time reading Jamie the Very Worst Missionary — “inappropriate remarks, embarrassing antics, and generally lame observations about living life as a Christian missionary in Costa Rica.”
* Have you just said to yourself, “Hey, I’m reading this blog, but what about the book? Is the BOOK, The Happiness Project, any good?” Well, your suspense is over. Read sample chapters here. And I’ll casually mention, too, that the book was a #1 New York Times bestseller.