Happiness Myth #1 – Happy People Are Annoying and Stupid.

As I’ve studied happiness over the past few years, I’ve learned many things that surprised me. Each day for the next two weeks, I’m going to debunk one “happiness myth” that I believed before I started my happiness project.

Myth #1: People find happy people annoying and stupid.

Wrong. Actually, studies show that people find happy people much more likable than their less-happy peers. Happy people are viewed as friendlier, smarter, warmer, less selfish, more self-confident, and more socially skilled – even more physically attractive.

Instead of finding them annoying, people find happy people attractive. Happy people have more friends and more social support than their less-happy peers. In marriage, they find it easier to get and stay married, and they’re more fulfilled in marriage. At work, they get more assistance from colleagues and supervisors.

It’s true that many people associate happiness with a lack of intellectual rigor. Charles de Gaulle reportedly said, “Happy people are idiots.” Creativity, authenticity, or discernment, some folks argue, is incompatible with the complacency of happiness – if happiness even exists. But although somber, pessimistic people might seem smarter, research shows that happiness and intelligence are essentially unrelated.

For the related myth that happy people are self-absorbed and selfish – stay tuned!

For a fascinating, exhaustive, well-documented exploration of this issue, see Lyubomirsky, King, and Diener’s The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Happiness Lead to Success?

I often wonder why happiness has such a bad reputation. It’s more pleasant to be happy, and it’s more pleasant to be around happy people, and it’s more challenging to be happier than to be less happy — why is happiness so often maligned, and seen as lazy and easy?

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On her new blog at readersdigest.com, Peggy Northrop wrote about a great idea: after her teenager asked her to stop talking about the economy, she decided to throw a “Cheer Up Already” potluck dinner (people without a job don’t have to bring anything). Science backs up this idea: seeing friends is a great way to boost your mood.

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Interested in starting your own happiness project? If you’d like to take a look at my personal Resolutions Chart, for inspiration, just email me at grubin, then the “at” sign, then gretchenrubin dot com. (Sorry about writing it in that roundabout way; I’m trying to thwart spammers.) Just write “Resolutions Chart” in the subject line.

Other posts you might be interested in . . .

  • Crysssy

    Once I was told that I smiled too much and everyone around me would think that I had something to hide.. That person could not stand to have happy people around her since she probably was not happy with her own life.  What a shame, but she made me think less of my own life and I am sorry I allowed her to do that. She made some spark  die within me:-(

    • Eric Weigand

      Good for her! (:

    • Monica Holmes

      I too, Crysssy, was once told by someone that smiling too much made people wonder what I was up to. My response was, “Oh, I hope they don’t waste too much time trying to figure it out. Life is much too short! Have a pleasant evening!” I hope, Cryssy, that your spark has returned even brighter. Life is too short to live it waiting for others’ approval.

  • http://twitter.com/Msothin Mallika

    Very true . Happy people are not annoying , actually they are the source of positive energy. It is one kind of electricity we do not have to pay.Thus it will not hurt our economy and make our hormones act in a positive manner.

  • http://www.facebook.com/craig.a.bowers2 Craig Allen

    There is a difference between somebody who is generally happy and those who are superficially happy. Someone who is constantly giggling and smiling is viewed to not be valid in their emotions. You can be in a good mood without shoving it down the throats of others.

    • Kristin

      this is exactly the response that I get for just enjoying life and making any situation enjoyable. there are many people who say i’m acting fake and just cannot understand that I truly find the silver lining – the whole shoving notion only separates people and prevents understanding – give’m a break…

  • nick

    Happyness, ignorance in its purest form.