This may sound absurd to some, but over the past few months I've really struggled with how appropriate it is to be "happy" around unhappy people without being rude or inconsiderate. Basically, DH and I are having a wonderful year. Everything in life has fallen into place for us. We both have jobs we love, our finances are in amazing shape, our relationship
is strong, we're having a baby, plus lots of other wonderful little things that have happened throughout the year. It's just strange because I've never been so happy before. I spent most of my adult life clinically depressed (I had this weird idea that if I built an outwardly happy appearing life it would make me feel happy.... which didn't work. However I did eventually manage to break free of the black dog and I've been in a really good place for nearly 18 months now). I don't want to take this happiness for granted because I know that life will deal us more ups and downs over the years, which it certainly has done in the past.
But what I'm finding is that I sound like a right prat talking about pretty much any topic that comes up - because in all honesty, there's almost nothing negative to say. And it seems that by contrast, many of the people around me aren't having such a good time of it.
Example 1: I'm having a baby. 2 of my siblings and several of our friends are struggling with infertility (some in early stages, others nearly giving up after $$$$$ of failed IVF). It would be odd to completely avoid the baby topic around them, but likewise it seems insensitive to talk about how excited and happy we are that it's worked out for us. Where's the balance?
Example 2: I love my job, and have a ridiculously good, supportive boss. Many of my friends hate their jobs or hate their bosses. If they're talking about work should I say nothing at all and just let them vent?
Example 3: In general, when friends are commiserating about how hard life is, again, should I avoid saying anything about my own life and just let them vent? A friend called me earlier this week telling me how hard this year has been and how miserable she is, and she can't wait for 2013. Apart from asking her all about it and expressing my sympathy and hoping her next year is a better one, I kind of felt I couldn't say a single thing to commiserate. It was kind of a conversation stopper in the end! Once she'd finished venting there wasn't a lot else I could say without sounding obnoxious.
So I guess my question is this: how much is it appropriate for me to express my happiness, or what obligation do I have to tone it down? Surely if somebody says "I hate my job" it's inappropriate to respond with "That's a shame, I love mine!"
So should I just avoid talking about my own life altogether? It's not that I want to dominate the conversation, but basically it seems there can be no "give and take" to keep the conversation flowing, as everything I have to say is in stark contrast. Or is the problem that I'm not hanging out with enough happy people? (I actually love talking to my boss because she is a very happy person, she's somebody I can be genuinely gleeful around - and she's super excited for me too).