Walking around the streets of Moscow, I couldn’t help but wonder – do these people have as many psychological/mental issues as we do? Do they take as many anti-depressants and see therapists as often as we do? I seriously doubt it. I honestly don’t think that those solutions to their issues even cross their mind.
This lead me to wonder – is it possible that one major source of our mental problems, especially anxiety and depression, is the fact that we act so fake so often – we suppress so many of our negative emotions so often in our daily life. We hide fear, anger, frustration, and impatience behind small talk about whether and sports and smiling when we don’t mean it? We say “you go ahead first” when we are eager to go first. We say “take your time” when we don’t have time and we want things to be done as quickly as possible. We say “don’t worry about it; it’s fine” when it’s not fine, etc… Just smiling at strangers when you don’t feel like smiling takes a lot of energy.
Smiling is not a default human state. Smiling is a sign of being entertained or amused by something. If you are not, you should have a neutral facial expression. I suspect that when we act happier, more polite and more patient than we mean to be, this kind of suppression translates into other, deeper psychological problems, such as, again, anxiety, depression, and various mood swings.
This morning, the guy in line in front of me at McDonald’s Red Square asked for a bigger paper bag for his two cups of coffee. When the barista told him that it’s not good to have a bigger paper bag, because the coffee will be more likely to spill, he calmly replied: “Just do your job; It’s my problem.” Not the nicest response in the world. I, however, was fascinated more by the barista’s response to that. It was nothing unusual. She wasn’t upset or offended by it. It was just not a big deal to her at all, and she just moved onto the next customer – myself.
I by no means advocate this kind of interaction, but I wonder whether that guy is less likely than we are to flip someone off when driving or take Prozac, because he lets his thoughts and emotions out so freely….