That someone would intentionally not be happy is not a huge shocker for some people, but it blew me away. I remember when Pharell came out with his mini-minion hit and people all over the globe were bopping, popping, locking and dropping to the song. It spoke to people, happy people, in a way that no one had spoken to them in quite a while. It was the happy anthem. Happy people are stuck in a world where people are fundamentally not-happy. Every day they are bombarded with unhappy and not-happy images and information. Just as we’ve been told that Misery loves company, so does Happy. The opposite side of this, the angry people, are easy to categorize and steer clear from. However, there is a more sinister group of people that drive happy people to the edge of madness. These are the “not-happy” people. Not happy people are not necessarily unhappy. They may not even be upset or mad or angry about anything in particular, they just are not… happy… and don’t want to be.
I tried and tried to make people happy. I mean I really tried. Eventually, dazed and confused, depressed and defeated, I gave up. If I couldn’t make them happy, I had failed at the relationship. But my happy mind, optimist that it is, had to come up with another reason. Maybe another option is that we were just not right for each other. We were only in each other’s lives for a season and now that the season has passed, I should celebrate the journey by cherishing what I learned along the way. No shit… I am totally that person. I find the silver lining. I read the quantum physics books and I believe in the power of positive thinking. I’m generally a happy person. But, in my quest for personal growth (and sanity), I tried to figure out why so many of us were falling into these “not happy on purpose” categories.
In that quest, I realized that I have encountered and have, occasionally, been several different kinds of not-happy folks in my time:
Arguers (and their cousin Devil’s Advocate)- these people have an opposing view to everything from everybody except the few people they decided are smart enough not to disagree with. They go full-force to disprove any theory someone might come up with. Even if they agree, they call in Devil’s Advocate to make arguing a point they don’t even believe in, seem rational. They are superhero defenders against disrespect. Not of other people, just disrespect aimed at them. They deserve respect in all matters even when they are wrong. They are impatient with people over common things. They don’t see traffic as a bunch of moving cars, there are people in the cars- horrible, terrible people who are incapable of driving to the strict specifications that EVERYBODY is supposed to know and follow- and they yell at the people for making “bad” driving choices. Arguers are right and everyone else is wrong (except those few people) and that is the end of that.
Complainers are a different breed, although they may seem a lot like Arguers, they are not. Arguers want you to do something: get out of the way, admit they are right, see things their way. Complainers just want to be upset about the thing. They are not actually searching for a solution to their problem, they just want the freedom to express how they feel about the problem. Then, they are able to move on to the next problem. Complainers vary where this expression may occur. Unlike Arguers, they are not always confrontational. They may eloquently express their displeasure in a tightly composed tweet and they are satisfied. They can add a rebellious hastag to a post they shared on Facebook. They just want the right to express their displeasure and they find many things to be displeased about. They don’t like a lot of things: hot weather, cold weather, silence, noise, food, drinks or air. All of these these are fair game to the Complainer who has, no doubt, found some element of these unpleasant.
Nit-pickers and Complainers make great company (for each other). They are the ones who point out the minute details Complainers are so upset about. At the end of the great movie, while you are trying to compose yourself before the lights come on, they are unable to get past the moment when the lead actor’s hair was over her shoulder one minute and behind her shoulder the next. Dismayed by the poor editing, the Nit-picker was absolutely unable to connect with anything else in the film. Nit-pickers think the potato salad needs more pickles or mustard or whatever it is that potato salad needs to be perfect. They have a particular kind of everything that they like and will NOT settle for another brand (temperature, color, flavor, size, etc). Nit-pickers are hard to please, but not impossible as long as you give them only what they like.
Disbelievers decide that they are not worthy of your attention. They look for signs to validate that they are correct, you cannot possibly love (like, be interested in, want to hang out with, want to talk to, want to sit next to) them. They need constant reassurance that they are safe. They need to be repeatedly convinced that you really do like them because they have more evidence than the the state’s prosecution office to prove otherwise. At some point, someone talked down to them, left them or even died and they internalized the emotional experience as fact. Because this one (seven, eleven, fifty three)person(people), one(seven, eleven, fifty three) year(s) ago said or did something, then EVERYONE else must feel that way. It is only a matter of time before the mask falls off and everyone sees how horrible they really are. Disbelievers live inside a glass bubble that keeps them emotionally distant from everyone else. The distance is a barrier to disappointment. Disbelievers hope for the best and plan for the worst. They keep an exit strategy because they believe that, at any moment, they should be prepared for every person to leave them.
The Baiters are the advanced version of the Disbelievers, they start you out with a simple, innocent question. One you will answer even if you hear that little voice in your head saying “Dooooooon’t doooo iiiiiiit…” You do, and three questions later, you find yourself defending your honor, commitment or love in some way. You are confused, “Wait… how did we get here because of whether or not I like your shirt?” but now, it’s too late. The answer you give to this final question determines if you even deserve to breathe oxygen and share the planet with decent human beings.
Skeptics are birds of a feather. They don’t think things will work out. If you see a happy couple posting their vacation pic on Instagram, skeptics will create an entire back story about how fake the couple is, how they probably argued the entire way to their destination and how one is probably cheating on the other. Skeptics don’t believe in happily ever after, fairytales, happy endings or pretty much anything else. They overthink and over-process information through a muddy lens of negative thinking. Even the times they enjoy, they spend the majority of that time distracted by emotionally preparing for it to end.
Archeologists are people who dig up something to be upset about when nothing visible is available. They use their creative energy to fabricate horrible endings to the most enjoyable experiences. They can walk into a room and find a group of their loved ones yelling SURPRISE! Archeologists will focus on how their partner must have gotten the contacts of all their friends and family. How sneaky everyone must really be to have kept this secret from them all this time. How could their sibling have played a part in this charade? Where is their loyalty if they spent this much time crafting a LIE? Trust nobody, because they are all liars!
Unappreciables and archeologists are often confused. Although the above scenario would appear to be unappreciative of the work that went into planning the party, it has nothing to do with their appreciation, it is their deep-seated trust issues that ruined the party. Unappreciables don’t care how much work went into it, they will be so distracted with something else that they will spend the entire time at their surprise party on their phone, making plans to leave the party early with other friends to go some other event they will equally not enjoy. They are unimpressed with the event, meal, color you painted the walls, car you bought for them and they cannot hide their lack of enthusiasm. This lack of enthusiasm is not discriminate. They aren’t really impressed with much.
Insatiables do like what you did, they are appreciative, but they do not understand why you stopped doing it. If they told you they like pie, why is there no pie here for them? If you cared, you would have pie. You can’t just rest on the fact that you made them a pie for their birthday (two months ago) and think they are supposed to still be happy with that. Love requires dedication (mostly on your part) and consistency (also on your part). Where is your commitment, loyalty and attention if it is not on them and on making them a pie? You are the one who is not worthy in this scenario. You are the one who does not measure up because you do not care enough to meet their inexhaustible list of must and must-always-haves.
There are the Jedis who send you telepathic messages detailing what they want. However, by the time you realize you have failed at your mission, they are already in full attack mode. You are caught completely off guard, what is wrong now? What did you do THIS time? Think hard, you put the toilet paper on right, you pushed the toothpaste from the bottom, you didn’t even drink the last of the juice… you drank water from the tap just so you would not get in trouble. By the time you figure out that the comment that was made in passing was actually an invitation that you were supposed to pick up on, say the lines that you were supposed to know to say and then do the thing you were supposed to know to do, it’s already too late. They are already completely through with you.
And, finally, there are the EnVogues they just Hold On to things. “I like pie.” “Oh yeah, I bet you were eating pie at that BITCH’S HOUSE weren’t you?” “Really? Do we have to do this now?” “Oh, you don’t wanna talk about that just because we’re at a funeral? You don’t even like Uncle Charles!!!”
People can be one or many of these, in various combinations, at any given time. I learned that the way to keep my happy, when all of these personalities come up, is to not try to change them. They are who and how they are. If I spent my time and energy trying to please them, trying to measure up, trying to crack the secret code that would turn their not-happiness into happiness, I would never be happy again. I had to accept that some people are not happy. They are not going to be and maybe don’t want to be. Sometimes, they are not even supposed to be happy. That’s alright. They don’t have to be. I have to give them pie when and how I want to give them pie and not expect them to respond to the pie in any certain way. I realized that it is not my job to make someone else happy. Happy is a personal journey and destination. I even considered that all of these not-happy people find some joy in what I considered a problem. Arguers like arguing, Complainers like complaining, Archeologists like digging and so on and so on. So I had to learn to love people the way they are, support them in any work they are doing and give not-happy people a chance to do the things they like to do. It matters.