Written by Abigail Libers.
“So how are you?!” a friend asked me at brunch recently. I hadn’t seen her in a while and thought for a moment. “Great!” I replied. “Things have been going really well for me.”
Even I was surprised by my response; it’s rare that I don’t have a complaint at the ready. Apparently my friend was taken aback too. “Really?” she asked. “That’s awesome. I’m happy for you.” And there was an awkward pause. In the silence I realized I had violated an unspoken code. The answer to “How are you?” is supposed to be “I’m so busy and stressed!” And indeed, when I asked what was new with her, she stuck to the script, rattling off complaints: annoyed with her mom, drowning at work.
The exchange made me realize something else. I noticed, strangely, that I felt a little guilty that things were going well for me. That night, as I thought about our conversation, doubts began to creep in: Was I really happy? Or had all my yoga, meditation, and therapy sessions just momentarily tricked me into thinking that I was happy? I reassessed: I had a new job I loved, I’d been dating someone exciting—dammit, I was satisfied. But the whole episode made me wonder, Why is there this happiness catch-22 in which all we want is to feel it, but the moment we do, we can’t accept it? Experts have actually studied this phenomenon and have isolated some pretty good reasons.
To read the full article, click here.