Sep 22, 2011  •  In Blogging, Personal

On Being Happy

Whenever I have some extra time to spare (or when I am suffering from insomnia once again), I like to go through the archives of this blog. And going through some of the more controversial posts from the past year, one question that popped into my head was: when exactly did I get the reputation of being a negative/pessimistic blogger?

If I had to label myself as an optimist or a pessimist, I would say that I am more of “the glass is half empty” person. It is true that overly bubbly personalities tend to irritate me, and that I usually gravitate — and share deeper bonds — toward those who wear their bleeding hearts on their sleeves.

(I know that others prefer to have in their social circles those who are bright and optimistic, doing their best to weed out all negativity — including people — from their lives. And that is perfectly fine too. I am not saying that one is better than the other; we all have different preferences and different ways of viewing, and reacting, to the world.)

(image source)


BUT I am not a complete Debbie Downer. I am the type of person who strives to see the good in everyone (as I illustrated in my Bin Laden posts). Sure I struggle with loving my enemies — who doesn’t? — and it’s been something that I have been working hard at in the past few years.

I guess the issue arises when I am faced with struggles and bumps in the road of life. And the way I approach it is this:

When I am going through rough patches, I like to talk about it and write about it.
It’s as simple as that.

Some readers see this as whining. Some see it as oversharing. Others even question my love for the people with whom I am going through the struggles. A few have gone as far as to calling me “fake,” asking how someone could be so negative all the time.

I think of it as therapy. I also see if as a way of helping others who may be going through the same things as me, to let them know that they are not alone, and to (if applicable) show them how I handled the problem.

My friend Miriam wrote a wonderful post about this last week when she wrote:

If something isn’t ‘right’ than I usually need to ‘process’ it and the best way for me to do that is by saying what ever it is out loud…or in this case, writing it on a post.  I generally don’t need help processing the good stuff, so a lot of the good stuff never makes it to this blog. But because of that, I seem to have potentially created a misnomer about my devotion to and love for my son not to mention how I feel about parenthood in general.

And that is exactly me, in a nutshell.

Additionally, I have shared in the past that I grew up in a poor family. Like, our entire family of four sleeping in one room on the floor poor. Like, we had no indoor plumbing, and I spent my life in Korea using an outhouse poor. Like, I had to beg my mother to let me take piano lessons and she had to sell stuff in order to afford those lessons poor.

Growing up in such an environment, I remember envying friends who were able to lay their hands on the latest and most popular toys. I remember asking my parents why we never went on vacation.

And I remember resenting those who would flaunt their good fortunes.

In hindsight, I should have been happy for my friends. But I was just a little kid who was overpowered by her inner green monster.

I’m guessing that these early years had a profound effect on me, because even to this day I do not like it much when people brag about their newest purchases, latest conquests, and other good fortunes. If they are good friends or close family, that’s fine. I just find it annoying when people with whom I don’t share a close relationship flash and flaunt.

I also try my best not to do it myself. I know that I do it sometimes on this blog — and I am painstakingly aware of it every time I do so — but only because I do not want this blog to be ONLY about my bitchings and rantings.

I know that I have a pretty good life, and I am eternally grateful and thankful for it. I just don’t like to go around with a megaphone, screaming, “LOOK HOW AWESOME MY LIFE IS!”, because it’s just not my style.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I am happy. But I get sad too, and experience my share of struggles. And just because I do not always write about the good stuff doesn’t mean that I love my daughters any less, or that I am an overly negative, pessimistic person. Like I’ve said many times in the past, you really can’t judge a blogger by what he/she chooses to share online.

Besides, I have been making a conscious effort to bring more positivity to this blog in the past few months…couldn’t you tell? 🙂

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20 Responses to “On Being Happy”

  1. Di says:

    I’m the same way. That’s actually why my blog is so stagnant right now. I write when I have something that’s making me unhappy or agitated. When life is really good (as it is now) I tend not to write. I think it probably makes people assume I’m more dramatic than I am.

  2. Nodakademic says:

    I’m the same way. I am just not a peppy/bubbly kind of person. I’m more the “if I don’t get my hopes up, I won’t be disappointed,” type of person. I did not have a similar upbringing to yours, and don’t know anyone who did in my social circles, but I did definitely know people on opposite sides of the good-fortune spectrum as it exists in the rural midwest (free&reduced-lunch/hand-me-downs versus lots of vacations-and new-stuff). Being toward the latter end of that spectrum taught me that bragging isn’t generally a way to win friends or make others feel good, so I always think long and hard about things I’ve accomplished or bought when I post them. We should be allowed to be happy about–and share–what we’ve got, but how do we do so without making others feel bad? But to the same end, I tend to do my best and most introspective writing when something is troubling me. If you poke through my blog of the last year, many of my posts are about school woes, stress, being busy and a lack of time. Last December, after I felt as though my comps damn near killed me, I received a few emails and a comment on my blog letting me know that people were sick of reading about my stress and school troubles. Well, I thought, that’s kind of too bad, since that’s been my life recently. It’s not that I have a bad life. Like you and Miriam, I am happy. I just need to process it when I’m not, and blogging is a great avenue for that.

  3. ErraticWit says:

    I hope you wrote this post for yourself and not for whoever was complaining.
    I don’t get people like that. It’s a personal blog and they can do whatever they want with it. If a person doesn’t like it – and doesn’t know the blogger personally – I don’t understand commenting or e-mailing said blog/blogger with their complaints. Why do they care so much? To me, it’s just weird…
    Would they do the same if they had been observing someone from a distance because they were interested and suddenly didn’t like the way they were behaving? No, because it doesn’t make sense. Yeah, you thought they were interesting while you observed them but now that they’re doing whatever you don’t like, you ignore them.
    It’s just bizarre to me!

    • I definitely wrote this for myself, as the posts and corresponding comments I’m talking about are months-old. 🙂

      I completely agree with you! It’s funny how some people take what others blog about SOOO seriously. Sadly, I no longer talk to some people who have severely judged me for what I write (mostly about parenting choices, or about my thoughts on motherhood)…luckily, I do not know any of these people in real life and I’m happy to ignore them now!

  4. Grace says:

    Well, from a selfish perspective I far prefer to read about struggles or issues people are having. It’s just not very interesting (or sparking of useful personal introspection) to read “My life is so great and just look how wonderful everything is for me!” And it’s so nice to know that others are struggling just like you are. Besides, there are plenty of relentlessly cheery bloggers already.

    For your own mental health, it’s probably good you are being more upbeat, since dwelling on the positive (like on things you’re grateful for) is supposed to increase happiness. I hope you don’t lose all the pessimism, though, because then I would be sad.

  5. Charmi says:

    I do the same thing (when I actually write blog posts) and sometimes feel like I’m whining a lot. When things are bad I also like the process of writing down my thoughts because it helps me figure things out for myself. I love reading your blog because its so real and creative 🙂

  6. I appreciate this post. My upbringing follows me as well. When people see where I am today, they assume that I’ve had it good forever. There is part of me that wants people to remember how life was for me growing up. It’s me wanting validation for that part, ya know? As a reader, I relate to your feelings of being down. I’m the type of person that prefers to read about heartache and hardships. The frilly, happy stuff isn’t as interesting for me though. I totally understanding your wanting to write some positive posts as well though. Finding a balance that works for you is important. I think we can all agree that we want you to feel the balance so you continue writing and sharing. And just because I feel like saying it… sometimes I prefer electronics over people because I just don’t like people that much… sometimes. Screw it if it’s negative. It’s the truth!

  7. Sunny says:

    Exactly. 🙂

  8. Eileen says:

    I am the same way in that when I am struggling with life, I like to write it out to process it. By far the majority of that writing stays in my personal journal though, because I have this fear of being overly gloomy on my blog. So I like to try focusing on positive things in my posts. It’s hard though because I think my best writing happens during the rough patches, and when I try to write happy upbeat posts I often think they are silly/trivial/boring. It’s a hard balance!

    I love the tone of your blog though; I agree that it’s more interesting to read about others’ struggles because I relate to that more than bloggers who make their lives seem perfect all the time. That said, I have noticed the increase in positivity here, and think that is great! My personal preference is for blogs that reflect a good mix of positives and negatives, just like the ups and downs of life.

  9. Tertour says:

    I just found your blog two days ago, but have been reading my way through your archives. I have to say that I love your writing style and am impressed with your *balls* for putting it all out there. I heart you in a “non stalkerish” way. Keep doing what you are doing and thanks for letting us all in on your slice of life.

  10. Nev says:

    I never thought that you come off as too pessimistic. Maybe that’s because I too am a constant worrier and I like to talk through my problems, so I can relate to the things you discuss in your blog.

  11. Janie says:

    I think I’m somewhat the opposite – I’m the kind of person who smiles in spite of everything that happens. But when I think about the kind of people I want to surround myself with, it’s not about whether they’re optimistic or pessimistic; rather, it’s about how honest they are. I appreciate people who are constantly frowny as much as the happy pappies, so long as it’s true to who they are. What I can’t stand to be around is someone who pretends to feel happy when they’re really crying inside, or (if this ever happens), someone who tries to hide their joy, for whatever reason.

    And just for the record, this is one of the reasons why your blog is one of my favorites. I never saw you as pessimistic, but I feel like your words are a window to your heart and soul, and that integrity to your true self makes it so interesting to read. So while I applaud your efforts to be more positive, I would encourage you to continue being yourself! Web-haters don’t HAVE to stick around.

  12. Amanda says:

    I think it’s easy to do that sometimes, because there’s a lot to talk about during the rough patches. I, for one, appreciate the honesty! 🙂

  13. Sarah says:

    What a great post! And I totally second Erratic Wit. Also for what it’s worth, I definitely don’t get the “negative” vibe from here! Actually I have been so impressed with your perseverance with everything going on in your life lately! You know, or at least what we can tell from your blog : )

    I am totally the obnoxious bubbly person… BUT I also have an oldest-kid-of-a-bad-divorce/always-put-on-a-happy-face!!!! complex so my spouse/parents/good friends know I am prone to the occassional meltdown : ) And I have the opposite problem of having a really difficult time writing and talking about the hard stuff. I am now inspired to try and “grow” more in that respect!! : )

  14. Terri says:

    I don’t think you are negative at all. You’ve had a rough year and you have every right to write about those things. Sometimes we have to acknowledge the hard stuff. I agree with Amanda that I admire your honesty.

  15. Mina says:

    i’ve never thought of you as a negative/pessimistic blogger–i just thought of you as one of the bloggers who is honest and willing to share some of the personal stuff that goes on, and a lot of people appreciate that. and you (and miriam) are so right–the happy stuff doesn’t need processing, the crappy stuff does.

  16. 🙂

    PS – I have been trying to post my little happy face for a day now, but have only just gotten in front of an actual computer! For some reason, when I click in the CAPCHA box, it always sends me back into my reader on the iphone.

  17. I’m the same way – I try to keep things positive on my blog, but, truth be told, when I’m upset it’s the first place I reach out. Ain’t no shame in that! 😉

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