Are You A Victim Of Fake Happiness?

By Stephanie Kirby

Updated December 17, 2018

Reviewer Aaron Dutil

We all have an idea of what happiness looks and feels like, but it is something that we all can easily to fake as well. Sometimes, we fake happiness, even when we do not mean to, and it causes us frustration and stress. There are many reasons someone might fake happiness. Here is a look at why and signs you might be doing this behavior.


Why Fake Happiness?

Faking happiness is when we appear happy to others but don't truly feel happy internally. It is not something we feel on the inside no matter how much we try to force it and pretend to others. To everyone else, it looks like we have everything we could ever want or need, but on the inside, we feel like something is missing. No matter what we accomplish, we still feel unfulfilled. Regardless of the many wonderful things that happen to us, we feel like we are searching for something we cannot explain. Faking happiness is dangerous. This behavior can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. Ask yourself if any of the following applies to you. If so, you might involved in this unwanted behavior.

You Are Living Someone Else's Version of Happy

No two people can define happiness the same way. That is one of the great things about happiness. However, if you find yourself living or acting a certain way just to please other people, you might be faking your own happiness. A lot of the time, this happens without us noticing. Your parents may have pushed you toward college to get a degree in a secure job field, one you are not necessarily passionate about. Your spouse may pressure you to make a career or financial decisions that do not feel right to you. Your neighbors, friends, even the media might tell you that you need to look and act a certain way or buy certain things to have happiness.


The truth of the matter is, that if something does not speak to you, yet you are still trying to achieve or own it, you are likely living someone else's version of happiness. Think about it for a moment. Are things you are working toward things that will make you happy? Things that matter to you? Do you care if you have the fastest car? The biggest house? The largest paycheck? Does the school you are trying to get into, the career you are trying to pursue, even the hobbies you are part of mean something to you?

Most of the time, people have tried to push us toward their version of happiness because they think it is the best thing for us. Unfortunately, when you are not working toward something that matters to you, it will feel more like an obligation than a means to better serve yourself. If you will not find happiness at the end of all your hard work, it is time to make some changes and prioritize what you want.

You Tell Yourself You Cannot Do Any Better

There is a difference between being happy with where you are and thinking you cannot go any further in life. If you find yourself trying less and less to get the things you want because you feel like you cannot go any further anyway, you might not truly be happy.

Sometimes we trick ourselves into thinking we are happy when we are not. We confuse the ideas of contentment and happiness, so much so, that we accept a quality of life that falls short of what we want or are capable of obtaining. We think that happiness is something that only happens now and again and that everything in between is just made up of filler moments that have little impact on our emotional or mental wellbeing.


If you do feel contentment in life, it should come from a place of peace, not laziness, lack of confidence, or a sense of giving up. Faking happiness can make us believe that we should make the best of a situation we are not satisfied with. Remember, life is not merely about keeping our boat afloat, it is about steering our ship to new and exciting places. If you find yourself accepting your lot in life and that feels like defeat, it is time to reevaluate.

You Think You Are Better Than Someone Else

Many times, happiness and pride get intertwined with one another. We think that we are happy because we have more money or nicer clothes than someone else, or because we can afford to buy more or better-quality things than others.

When we reduce our happiness to what we have versus what others have, we are relying on pride to fuel a false sense of happiness. Real happiness cannot come from pride alone. This is because toxic pride is an effect of a bloated sense of self. To achieve real happiness, our ego must be in check. This requires us to have a true understanding of our values, beliefs and a positive perspective that we will reach our goals.

When we fuel our self-esteem with false ideas about who we are or what we think we are worth, we will never be happy with ourselves. We will always be attempting to obtain more and more. The type of happiness that comes along with that will never be genuine or long-lasting.

Your Happiness Comes from Things

Have you ever heard the phrase, "Nothing lasts forever?" It is one of the truest statements known to man. When your happiness comes from temporary things, you can be sure that your happiness is temporary too.Common types of temporary happiness come from objects. Things that we can buy at the store like that extra slice of cake, or that bottle of alcohol. Sometimes, temporary happiness starts in the goals we create for ourselves. Ideas like, "If I just lost ten more pounds I would be happy," or "If I had perfect abs I would be happy."

When we fall victim to this type of thinking, we create a cycle that is hard to stop. The cycle begins when we believe we need certain things to feel content. We start working on the thing or go out and buy the thing and eventually reach our goal or have what we want. But all too often, the sense of accomplishment does not last. Wanting to recapture that sense of achievement or satisfaction again, we immediately start thinking about the next thing that might make us happy. We end up perpetually chasing one thing after the next, all the while convincing ourselves that it is the next step that will bring happiness, forgetting that the joy is fleeting.

This behavior tricks us because things are always changing. You might lose weight, but it might come back. You might take a vacation, but you must return home. It is important to understand that there is a difference between working toward a goal, or simply doing or completing something out of enjoyment. Relying on such things as a crutch for happiness. Creating happiness that comes from within, is key to avoiding this.

You Are Only Happy in Certain Situations

It is normal to expect your levels of happiness to rise and fall depending on what is going on in your life, but if it seems like you are only happy under certain conditions. For example, if you are only happy at work when others are giving you recognition, or if you are only happy with your hobby when you win an award, you may want to reevaluate if your happiness is truly genuine.

Real happiness views situations where everything is going well as unexpected blessings, not requirements for satisfaction. Real happiness lies in an understanding that there is still value in what you do, even if no one is watching or no sense of accomplishment is gained.


When your happiness relies on certain conditions to be a certain way, you automatically set yourself up for sadness when things fall apart. While that temporary happiness feels good when things do go your way, it is nothing compared to what genuine happiness feels like when it comes from a place that cannot be shaken or taken away at the first sign of trouble. If you notice your happiness comes and goes too easily, that is a sign fake happiness is affecting you.

Becoming a victim of fake happiness can happen to anyone. Often, we can only see that we have dealt with fake happiness when we take a long, hard look at why we are feeling unsatisfied. Just because fake happiness has led your life, does not mean it has to stay that way. There are things you can start doing today to achieve a sense of real happiness. If you need help starting your journey to genuine joy, contact a professional at BetterHelp today!

Previous Article

Money Can’t Buy Happiness, So What’s The Secret?

Next Article

How You Change When Happiness Comes From Within
For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Counselor Today
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.