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Perkiness & positivity are two different things

I have a pet peeve.

Well, it’s not really a pet peeve because I find it far more amusing than annoying. So let’s just call it an observation.

Here it is:

Whenever I’m in deep thought, someone always asks me “Is everything okay?”

The positive philosopher and the sad singer

Those who are closest to me know that my one of my most cherished pastimes is the process of wrestling with a challenging philosophical conundrum. I routinely toss around paradoxes and riddles in my head throughout the day to keep myself entertained. If you catch me in the middle of one of these thought experiments, you’d see that my problem-solving game face can be quite intense. These moments, however, are among my times of greatest joy.

But, as much joy as I derive from serious in-depth contemplation, someone always checks in on my emotional health whenever my game face goes on. Here’s the funny thing; I love to sing too. I also walk around singing as much as I walk around thinking. Sometimes I’m in a horrible mood and am singing the saddest of songs, but people usually assume the exact opposite during those moments. “Wow, you’re really happy” a woman said to me, once, as I sadly strolled along singing “One Last Cry” by Brian Mcknight .

There’s no happiness like showbiz happiness

The association of seriousness with sadness and perkiness with positivity is highly understandable. I totally get it.

It does, however,  prompt me to make an important point about optimism and happiness:

When many people think of being positive and happy, they are referring to what I call “showbiz happiness.”

Showbiz happiness is when you walk around with a big grin on your face looking like you’re ready to break out into a tap dance routine or give everyone you see a hug.

There are people who express their happiness in the showbiz way and that’s quite a fine thing. But others question their capacity to be happy and positive because they don’t walk around whistling all the time. There are even some who shy away from any efforts at becoming more positive because they fear it will turn them into a one-dimensional “turn your frown upside down” cheesy clown character who annoys all of their friends.

Well, for all of you who’ve ever wanted to be more optimistic, but feared that positivity wasn’t for you, I’m offering you these two cents:

Being perky and being positive are two different things.

Optimism is diverse and happiness is multi-dimensional

Not all people who are perky are positive. Some of them have just had too much espresso.

Not all people who are positive are perky.

A positive person is simply someone who maintains a commitment to doing the best they can with the cards they’ve been dealt. 

 Some optimist are highly energetic, but some are very laid back, mellow, easy-going people who are at peace with themselves even though they have no interest in giving you a hug.

You don’t have to smile to feel satisfied

A psychological state is different from the facial expressions, tones of voice, and physical mannerisms various people use to express themselves. Words like “happiness” and “positivity”, ultimately refer to psychological states.

You don’t have to fit into a cookie cutter behavorial mold in order to live joyously. You don’t have to become a stereotype. In fact, by making an effort to be more optimistic, you’ll be pleased to find a more full version of your personality available to you.

You have a right to be happy and healthy. The opportunity to develop a positive psychology and live an extraordinary life is a real option for you.

So don’t count yourself out just because you don’t have a perky personality.

At least that’s my two cents.

Cheers,

T.K. Coleman

P.S.

By the way, for all you perky folks, I’d still appreciate it if you check to make sure I’m okay when you see me looking serious. You never know when I could use an uplifting word of encouragement or, better still, a good laugh.
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