The Surprising Problem With Being Too Happy

Jordan Brown

This is a problem that doesn't seem like one.

You might even question why I'm writing about it.

Too much of a good thing.

It's a common phrase.

But is it something you've ever tied to happiness, to being too happy?

There are some areas in life that seem like a given. They seem beyond question.

But as you're about to find find out, mental health requires balance.

And that means you must balance positive emotions, like happiness, as well.

If You're Too Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands

extremely happy man in red sweater who is being too happy
Bill, could you dial it down a few notches?

Life satisfaction comes down to a few things.

Finding meaning. Stable relationships. Security and stability in house and home.

But when it comes to an optimum level of happiness, how do you categorize it? Is there even such a thing as a perfect level of happiness?

Happiness, first of all, is incredibly difficult to quantify.

Being happy for one person may not even come close for someone else. Happiness is tied to our experiences.

Yes, the ability to feel happy is innate for human beings, but several life factors need to come together to produce the phenomenon that is known as happiness.

But the topic of focus for today is not simply defining happiness--it's answering the question:

"Is it possible to be to be happy?"

For me, the answer is an unequivocal yes.

The Pursuit of (Too) Happiness

Have you ever been around someone whose behavior doesn't seem to mesh with the rest of the group? 

It doesn't feel very good, right?

Being too anything is a cause for concern. Of course, it only becomes a concern when you consider the context. In order to be too anything, you need a point of comparison. 

Too sad. Too aggressive. Too silly.

What happens when you read those words?

Your brain immediately starts to zoom in on experiences you've had where a person--or people--acted in a way that was too much for the context of the given situation.

And so it can be with happiness.

Of course, being too happy is a symptom of certain mental illnesses. Bipolar disorder comes to mind when figuring out if an overly happy mood is a sign of chemical imbalance.

But being too happy is also a common phenomenon that deserves attention.

If a person is being too much of anything, we need to ask ourselves why?

Always, always ask questions when you're confused about something. You may not immediately find the answer, but at least you've started the process. And that counts for something.

The phrase "too happy" sounds like a mistake, like an oxymoron. But positive emotions can quickly turn into negative emotions when they're not aligned with the present situation.

So let's turn to the final part of our discussion: when a happy moment becomes more than that.

Excessive Happiness: What to Do About It

So now you know that it's possible to be too happy and that it depends on the context.

If you're in an environment with happy people, then it's likely not a problem.

But if you're in a somber environment, and you or someone else is too happy, then it's time to take a step back and assess the situation.

Here's are some ways to bring happiness to lower levels when needed

1 - Consider the context clues

Context is a tricky thing. It's not always easy to read a room and know the collective mood of the group you're with.

But if you look for common clues, you'll almost always get it right. Look for things like: 

- Words being used

- Body language

- Facial expressions

- How people are dressed

- Are movements free-flowing and exaggerated, or are they very stiff?

It's the entirety of the situation you're looking for, not just bits and pieces. When you analyze clues one by one, a complete picture suddenly materializes.

Once you have the proper clues--and once a complete picture is starting to emerge--it's time to move on to step two.

2 - Consider how you're acting within the situation

This step could apply to any situation when you or another person is being too much of any particular emotion or personal characteristic.

Ask yourself more questions:

- How do I fit in here?

- Am I doing what everyone else is doing?

- Am I smiling more than others?

- Are my smiles causing people to give me strange looks?

- Can I stop myself from smiling?

This last question gets to the heart of something important.

Often, being happy and smiling and joking is a defense mechanism. It's very common to use it when you actually feel uncomfortable. If someone accuses you of something, and you smile when they are expecting a frown or an explanation, then that is probably going to amplify the tension in the room.

Look at the clues in the environment, and then compare your actions with the clues.

3 - Correct the Behavior to Achieve Emotional Balance

This comes down to if you can correct the behavior. For individuals who live with bipolar disorder, this may not be possible during a manic episode. 

Always, always compare what I write with your own experience.

But if you can change your behavior, it's worth trying to mesh with the room. Building rapport with others comes down to a few things, but at the top of the list is matching the emotional and physical tone of the people around you.

In fact, it's physically natural to mimic the body language of those around you--it happens automatically. Still, you occasionally need an extra boost.

The next time you find out of sorts with your environment, take the clues you've collected, and try to use them to your advantage.

If people are being serious, try to be serious. If people are moving slowly and hanging their heads as they talk, try to do the same.

Communication is primarily non-verbal clues, so just by changing your posture and your speed of movement, you can begin to see noticeable benefits in how people interact with you.

If you remember anything from this article, remember this: you can be too much of anything. It doesn't mean that you're a bad person. It just means that there is a mismatch between what you're doing and what others in the given moment are doing.

No one wants to be a robot, but the funny thing is, if your behavior is completely at odds with the people around you, others may perceive you that way.

The goal is mental health.

The goal is lasting happiness that benefits you and the world around you.

You don't always have to be happy.

But if you learn about yourself and ask the right questions, you can be the right amount happy when the situation calls for it.