Reader QUIT: (Pity) Partying (by Abby Heugel)

I used to be a party girl.

Well, I should say that I used to be peer pressured into attending a lot of parties—pity parties, that is. And while there was time when I enjoyed them and even threw a few crazy ones myself, they’ve lost their appeal.


Aside from the emotional hangovers, the headaches, the time that they take—it’s because I’m tired of happiness being the minority emotion. I’m not talking about the annoyingly perky people that you want to slap after five minutes, but rather people who are actually content with many of the things in their lives that are often the source of such discontent for others.

These people are in the minority.


You Can Be Happy, But Not Too Happy

This has become increasingly clear to me these past few months when I have made a much more conscious effort to stay mindful of my feelings, to make more decisions based on what brings me a sense of peace instead of pleasing an outside influence.

And I’ve quit thinking I have to make apologies for not shifting with the crowd.

Everyone has things in their lives and some are dealt a much tougher hand than others, but I find it’s often the people presented with the most difficult challenges that have the most positive outlook. They seek solutions, not sympathy, and take control of their own happiness.

But most people complain, and as soon as you don’t join in the gossip or the communal complaints—the pity parties—it’s right back to being in elementary school and hiding your secret love for books (because reading wasn’t cool. Nerd).

Maybe being positive about things that others are continually negative about is perceived as a threat against their argument that they have it right, they have it worse, or that no one understands. Throwing positive perception into their bag of excuses is most often not welcomed, at least not openly (see gossip rule above).


If Happiness Is a Choice, Then So Is Unhappiness

That freaks people out.

Heck, that can freak me out at times and it’s not like I don’t understand.

I’ve had really low points. I still struggle each day. Being positive doesn’t come naturally to me in that I have to make an effort to stay positive—I do yoga, I meditate, I medicate (and I still want to slap someone most of the time). But for the most part, I work hard at it and like being happy. I vow not to question why I am at any point ever again.

And I can also accept that I can’t be happy all the time. That sometimes I don’t want to be happy, and I’ll drive the bitch wagon myself.

That’s okay, too. That’s life.

But if I’m happy and I know it, I refuse to never show it.

You shouldn’t either.


Abby is the author of Abby Has Issues, where she documents her brilliant insights about everything from manic meteorologists and a love of not camping to the pursuit of both personal and professional peace. By day she writes/edits for employment, but mostly she looks forward to the nights and weekends when she can write for enjoyment, do yoga, watch baseball, play outside in the dirt and plan how to either get Daniel Tosh to marry her or get “discovered” so she can do all those things instead of work for “the man.”

You can email her at or “like” Abby Has Issues on Facebook.

Interested in submitting a Reader Quit of your own?  Check out how here.

Image: Emergency Brake / Flickr

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  • Oh, Dear Abby, how I can relate to this one!  My office especially is pity party central.  My family is more chaotic than yours–my finances are in worse shape than yours–my boss is meaner to me than yours.  I get nothing out of it but a headache and a vague soul-ache.

    So, unless there is going to be cake provided, I too quit pity partying, and will also do my best to combat pity parties already underway with a good healthy does of annoying, gripe-killing optimism.

    Excellent quit!

  • Melissa

    This!  A thousand times this!  I’m also guilty of wallowing a bit more than I probably should, but I’m working on quitting the rest of that, too.

    Oddly enough, this was one of the reasons my stress level DEcreased when I got laid off.  I no longer had to deal with the co-workers who were convinced that everyone should commiserate with them about how much life sucked and would actually get mad if you had the audacity to be all “actually, I kinda like most of my life”.

    Good on you!  😀

  • Chris Barba

    “if happiness is a choice, then so is unhappiness.” – Love this!

    This probably resides with me because when I’m not happy, I do either consciously choose to be in a bad mood, because sometimes it feels a little good to feel bad.  Or sometimes use external circumstances as my punching bag and wale on it thinking nothing is going right and I cannot find happiness.  

    I completely believe happiness is a decision, but sometimes even when I want to make that choice – I can’t.  Why is it so hard and why do we play the blame game when we aren’t happy?  I’m not sure, but for now I think accepting the ambiguity might be the best solution, for that is life.  

    Really enjoyed reading this!

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    I have been trying to write a post about this for a looong time now, but I could never figure out how to say it.  You definitely win – this is perfect!

    I have worked so many jobs where people would rather stand around complaining than actually get work done. Also, they tend to be complaining about stupid things, like the weather, or how they wish they had more money so that they could go drinking all the time.  Bummer.

    I’ve learned to just walk away, even if it’s in the middle of the conversation.  I think my coworkers are finally starting to realize that I don’t wish to take part in their pity-parties, which is just the way I want it 🙂

    • When you do refuse to join in or simply walk away, I think most eventually realize that what they’re talking about just isn’t of interest to you. Bonus! Some take my behavior as aloof and cold, but if the conversation was centered on something other than complaints, I would be more than happy to join in!

  • Can I just say that “The Happy Black Sheep” would be a kickin’ name for either a blog or a band?  😛

  • Great summary.
    I think once we realize that the big “happiness moments” are few and far between, it takes some of the pressure off. There really are only small joys, in my opinion, and it’s up to us to find those small joys and acknowledge them as such. If we’re always searching for that permanent solution, we’ll always be disappointed.

    I guess it’s not what happens as much as it is how we see what happens.

  • Love it.
    I give myself 10 minutes and then force myself to do something I like–tea, go outside, even read a blog or two. After that, it’s back to whatever else demands my focus and not my frustration. 

  • <3

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