This Is Too Good to Be True: Why we protect ourselves against joy

 In Better Life, Focusing on the positive

I had the incredible opportunity to see and listen to some of my favorite thought-leaders at the Work Human conference last week, including Shawn Achor, Simon Sinek, Tony Schwartz, David Rock, and Brené Brown.

One of the things Brené shared from her research shocked me! She was talking about courage and vulnerability and asked us which emotion requires the most courage. I would never have guessed the answer – JOY!!

She went on to explain that most of us have a natural tendency to protect and guard ourselves against joy. When we experience a joyous moment or situation, our minds tend to quickly jump to a thought like, This is too good to be true! Something terrible is probably going to happen next. or It won’t last.

Brené said that we do this because feeling joy makes us vulnerable to heartbreak, disappointment, etc. and so we

“dress rehearse tragedy so we can beat vulnerability to the punch.”

As I listened, I thought How terrible!! I felt like I couldn’t relate because I savor joy. I wondered, do people really have this reaction to the wonderful moments in their lives? Then it hit me; I used to have this response in the past and it wasn’t until that moment that I realized that I had changed. Wow!

Brené went on to say that her studies have shown there is an antidote for catastrophizing against joy. It is GRATITUDE!! Her research shows that joyous people are grateful people. Maybe that was the answer for my change . . . A couple of years ago I made a strong intention to spend more time in gratitude. It’s been fascinating to notice how being grateful has become easier and more frequent with practice, although I still have a long way to go.

Would you like more joy in your life? If you are like the majority of people in Brené’s studies and think “This wonderful moment is too good to be true.” you may want to spend more time practicing and nurturing gratitude. I’ve definitely seen it impact mine.

Here are some past positivity tips to help you grow your gratitude.

Wishing you much peace & happiness!


Tina Hallis, Ph.D., is a positivity speaker, trainer, & author. She is also the founder of The Positive Edge, a company dedicated to helping create more positive attitudes, positive work cultures, and positive results.

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