The Effects of Forcing Happiness


Kareli Gutierrez (12th), Reporter

Happiness. The universal reaction of people that occurs when they encounter something that gives them joy. Happiness is something that everyone relates to happening naturally, but there are many instances in which people are/feel forced to be happy. This forcing of happiness can have different effects on humans, either negative or positive.


Forcing happiness can actually be harmful. In the article “Faking happiness at work can make you ill” by Katy Duke, Duke talks about a group of psychologists at the University of Frankfurt that did an experiment which proved that the jobs that make people force themselves to be happy can actually have negative impacts on their health in the long run. 


Being forced to appear happy at work seems to cause health problems ranging from depression to cardiovascular conditions, ongoing research in Germany has shown…

The volunteers’ heart rates were measured and preliminary results showed that… the heart rates of the group who stayed polite shot up and continued to beat at a noticeably greater rate long after they had ended their telephone calls.… Professor Zapf said, ‘Based on previous stress research, we know an increased heart rate can lead to cardiovascular problems and is a clear indicator of a higher psychological workload.…”


It seems as though the stress of having to be happy and keep that happiness no matter the situation affects people in the long run. A lot of people may not think of the consequences of forcing happiness, but it seems that this act [forcing happiness] is more than just something that can be “simply done,” with no consequences.


This brings a new light to how the effects of forcing happiness can negatively impact human health as it is presumably thought how happiness, whatever kind it may be, must have been good, but here it can be seen just how much forcing this emotion can take a toll on people. 


But, there’s more to it than negativity.


Although there can be a negative impact in human health, there can also be a  positive impact on humans. In the article “Smiling can trick your brain into happiness — and boost your health” by Nicole Spector, a psychiatrist, named Eva Ritzo, explains how forcing a smile may actually help people’s health.

“Dr. Ritzo recommends smiling at yourself in the mirror, an act she says not only triggers our mirror neurons, but can also help us calm down and re-center if we’re feeling low or anxious.”

This provides a great scientific explanation as to how and why forcing a smile or just any kind of happiness can help people with their day to day lives.

This explanation by Dr. Ritzo also brings an opposition to the first statement of negative effects stated by the psychologists involved in the experiment in Germany which brings the question as to what other people think of this topic.

I was curious as to what students thought about the idea of forcing happiness and so I asked Victoria Spears, a senior at Pitman High School, whether she thought forcing happiness had a negative and/or positive impact on humans and when she thinks people are mostly forced to be happy.

She responded, “I absolutely think there are negative impacts to forcing happiness. When we force happiness on ourselves or others, we are suppressing the emotions that are really felt. I think the only people that are positively affected by forcing happiness are the people around someone who is being forced to be happy. When we force happiness, we often feel that we are less of a “burden” to those around us. I think people feel mostly forced to be happy when they feel that they are being a burden to others or feel that they are not meeting the standards that have been set for them. ”

It’s an interesting take on how Spears explains how the forcing of happiness may be only to meet “the standard that have been set for them.” It’s a great explanation to how a lot of people might feel when forcing their happiness in the presence of others. 

It’s truly interesting to see the different perspectives between the negative and positive impacts on humans.

Forcing happiness definitely has two sides. It has been discussed that it can have negative and positive effects on people. Due to these different impacts, it’s ideal for people to know and understand the effects it may have on them.


But, in a world where it’s okay to be happy, it’s just as important to tell people that it’s okay to not behappy all the time but instead to feel and share their emotions instead of hiding them.