Scientology culture is recognizable by its collective, synthetic ‘cheerful’ or ‘enthusiastic’ emotional tone. Scientologists learn to put on a happy face. If they are seen without one, a fellow Scientologist considers it his duty to ‘handle’ it. And that primarily means making the person mentally deal with the life situation causing the lower emotion so that he can easily mentally cope with putting on a happy face in spite of it. In a Scientology group one is expected to act happy. To display any emotion less than that results in Scientologists almost instinctively interceding with a person’s psyche to remedy the perceived problem. A Scientologist learns eventually to convincingly act happy all the time, even when he or she is feeling deep sorrow, a sense of devastating loss, or is suffering pangs of conscience.
Scientologists will bridle at the notion they are taught to play act through life. But, the technology they are applying day in and day out is plain:
‘Force yourself to smile and you’ll soon stop frowning. Force yourself to laugh and you’ll soon find something to laugh about. Wax enthusiastic and you’ll very soon feel so. A being causes his own feelings.’ – L. Ron Hubbard 25 August 1982
If you read Memoirs of a Scientology Warrior (Amazon Books, 2013) you will get a fairly comprehensive picture of the mood of the Scientology community that Ron was addressing with this bulletin, and the reasons for that tone. That includes the mood that Ron himself was in.
I think that if you look at it objectively you cannot help but see the effects of a culture en masse adopting the stable datum that emotion is something to create like play acting. That objective look has prompted some to reckon Scientology culture as resembling those communities depicted in the movies The Stepford Wives and The Truman Show. How else could otherwise upstanding-seeming citizens blissfully ignore wholesale human rights violations happening at their church’s headquarters, the regular disappearing of church public figures, the forsaking of long-time associates and even family on the arbitrary order of one’s church, the countenancing of extreme methods of harassment directed at anyone who expresses the slightest disagreement with the Scientology way, etc, ad infinitum. If you believe this only applies to the corporate church community you have got a serious case of denial – maybe even the Stepford/Truman strain.
There is another, accurate, word to describe this phenomenon of manipulating one’s own emotions. It is called ‘acting.’
As in, act, from New Oxford American dictionary: 2. Behave in the way specified, and 5. Peform a fictional role in a play, movie, or television production.
I have news. One must for sure act in order to attain desirable emotion, such as those concomitant with ‘happiness.’ But, Scientologists – notwithstanding all their literalness with exact, precise definitions of terms – are given and tend to thus dramatize the wrong definition of act.
Try, definition 1, Take action; do something.
Viktor Frankl can ‘splain better than I can:
Normally, pleasure is never the goal of human strivings but rather is, and must remain, an effect, more specifically, the side effect of attaining a goal. Attaining the goal constitutes a reason for being happy. In other words, if there is a reason for happiness, happiness ensues, automatically and spontaneously, as it were. And that is why one need not pursue happiness, one need not care for it once there is a reason for it.
– Vitkor Frankl, The Will to Meaning
For those Scientologist still sufficiently brainwashed to refuse to consider the words of a psychiatrist – even one who survived three stints in Nazi concentrations camps and demonstrably walked the walk far more realistically than any Scientologist who ever breathed – maybe the following will resonate. It is understood in the highest halls of academia as well as the streets of Brooklyn. You gotta work hard to ‘be’ who you wanna ‘be.’ Wake up. Perceive. Feel. Live.