As I mentioned a few posts ago, I’m re-watching all of Ally McBeal and during a second season episode, I came across this incredibly honest exchange between Jane Krakowski’s cheerful Elaine and Peter MacNicol’s very weird John Cage.
John: Don’t you get lonely, Elaine? Ever?
Elaine: I’ve never spent an un-lonely day in my life.
John: Yeah but you always seem so happy.
Elaine: Well happy is easy. You act happy, people see you as happy, and you see yourself through their eyes, you feel happy. It doesn’t work for lonely, but happy is easy.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching Krakowski’s first big television break (before 30 Rock) as the sassy oddball Elaine, I must say that it’s at these infrequent moments of sincerity that I truly appreciate her character.
And this explanation of the difference between lonely and happy is sad and wonderful at the same time. Numerous psychological studies have show that smiling can make you actually feel happier, as Elaine observes. However, lonely cannot be solved so easily with a smile.