The Sunshine Makers: Can You Be Too Happy?

December 14, 2010 Becky Oberg

Last Christmas, my father gave me a page-a-day calender with links to offbeat web sites. A recent one shared the link to a 1935 cartoon sponsored by Borden, The Sunshine Makers. This vintage example of product placement raises an interesting question: Is it okay to be sad?

The Sunshine Makers features a group of happy singing gnomes, who turn the sun's rays into a milk-like liquid, which they bottle for delivery.

A group of grumpy singing gnomes attempts to stop delivery. War breaks out, and liquid sunshine fallout turns a swamp into a fountain, revitalizes a barren tree, and turns a sickly crow into--well, I'm not sure, but my guess would be an undiscovered species from the Amazon.

The cheerful gnomes invade the gloomy gnomes' village, and either dunk or force-feed the product until they're literally glowing. They sing and dance about how they'll "never again be sad".

Sometimes, It's Okay to Be Sad

Some people--myself among them--feel some empathy for the gloomy gnomes. While I'm not the "we're happy when we're sad" type, I don't have an irrational fear of feeling anything other than happy. I recognize--unlike the happy gnomes--that sometimes it's okay to be sad.

This is not a sentiment everyone shares.

In 2002, my Grandma Oberg died. I had a psychiatrist's appointment that I couldn't reschedule the day after the funeral. I left shortly after the burial, drove six hours through the night back to Indianapolis, arrived around 1 a.m., and went to the morning appointment after a few hours sleep.

"You look depressed," said my then-psychiatrist after hearing my story. "I'm going to increase your medicine."

"My grandmother just died," I snapped. "I'm in mourning! I'm supposed to look sad! If you're going to increase my medication so I don't feel sad at a time I need to, then this is just legal substance abuse!"

She was so surprised by my forcefulness that she simply stared at me and quietly said "Okay."

I'll say it again--I don't enjoy being sad. As a person with borderline personality disorder (BPD), I realize that I need to be careful about letting my emotions affect my behavior. However, I also realize that emotions themselves are neither good nor bad. It is what I do with how I feel that matters.

Dissatisfaction, for example, can inspire different actions. Let's say Joe Sixpack is not satisfied with his winter coat, and finances are tight. Joe has several options. He could steal a new coat. He could steal money and buy one. He could budget his money carefully and save up for one. He could do nothing and just hope somehow a new coat appears.

Same emotion. Different actions. Different consequences. The choice of action, not the emotion, determines the outcome.

Emotions simply exist, independent of "good" or "bad". It is just as okay to feel happy as it is to feel sad.

APA Reference
Oberg, B. (2010, December 14). The Sunshine Makers: Can You Be Too Happy?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 20 from

Author: Becky Oberg

June, 22 2017 at 1:11 am

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Mary quite contrary
December, 18 2010 at 7:08 pm

Dr Musli Ferati, I try to always make good choices in my life. I am a very happy person. The fact is I'm afraid to be sad. It scares me. I think I have to be happy all the time. When ever I'm around a group of people you can always catch me smiling. I always want to be there for others, but truley down inside I want to be sad but I'm afraid. I know I'm too old for this and others have their life to live but I wish people would call, or just drop in to say 'Hi". Sometimes I feel very lonely, sad and afraid.

Dr Musli Ferati
December, 18 2010 at 1:15 am

Happiness is a pleasant emotional state which mainly depends on our attitudes to daily situations. In other words, our judgments and impressions are crucial to daily events, which are conditioned not so much of our personal desires and opportunities. In this direction will help us the fact that even in the grim thing we have to sought and find the good elements as well as peaceful moments. So, happiness should be created as life style model, by forming a friendly atmosphere around our family environment and a wide mesh of social and professional activities.

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