Are happy people less easily offended or emotionally triggered?

This thought-provoking post by Claudia, from draws connections between mental health and the so-called cancel culture. She suggests that personal trauma or other emotional insecurity contribute to unreasonable demands for the censorship of others. I think there are two key omissions from her argument. People who have been historically discriminated or attacked in their society are understandably and, perhaps, rightfully triggered by their oppressors. Whilst their demands for outright legal censorship may undermine freedom of speech values, their demands not to be belittled or abused in normal interaction, whether in the form of humour or tradition, are completely reasonable.

Secondly, some of the biggest cases of censorship are not offended individuals or groups but corporations and governments that hide evidence to pursue certain policies, sell their products and entrench power. The personalised mental health model of censorship fails to address, perhaps, the most pressing and important issues of corporate and governmental censorship for profit and power. Nonetheless, from the point of view of the individual and building resilience to hearing opposing views and being offended, which is important for any functioning society, I think it has real value.


Are happy people less easily offended or emotionally triggered?

This is the question that arose in my head today. It came into thought because I’m part of an email that recommends “banned books”. They’re not truly banned, but they often look at, are a commentary on, or question the idea of “cancel culture”. 

And then I began to reflect on the people closest to me in my life, including my husband and some expat friends I’ve formed over my years in Paris; they are all not easily offended, they all hold an air of, “That really doesn’t bother me at all/Their opinion doesn’t invalidate my experience,”, and they all are anti-”boycott” and anti-“cancel culture” because they don’t see it as a solution to a problem, merely an emotional reaction to a trigger.

And I subsequently began to reflect on people who bully, intimidate, smear, try to control, or otherwise “cancel” people in social spaces, I thought about the admins I spoke about yesterday  trying to mold and manipulate the story they want told in “their spaces”, and wondered: Are they truly, undeniably happy?

According to UpJourney who interviewed numerous psychologists (so this is not just one study, but many), people who are easily offended are:

  • Overcompensating due to their own moral guilt
  • Suffer from anxiety
  • Feel invalidated and insecure and seek validation through playing the victim
  • Have parents who modeled sensitivity or babied their oversensitivity
  • Unable to control their emotions/poor emotional health
  • Trying to rewrite a pain from their past

That last point is especially important because it really drives home the point that cancel culture and emotional sensitivities are actually a trigger for unhealed trauma. This is something I made a whole post about on Instagram, in the past. None of the psychologists who were asked for their responses said anything positive about people who are emotionally offended – if a word like “compassion” was used, it was in the sentence “They need your compassion and love,” which means they are lacking it.

This is, quite literally, an answer to my first question. Indeed, yes, happier people are less easily offended or emotionally triggered. Which truly does support the idea that those who are emotionally triggered, supportive of “cancel culture”, or easily offended are, in fact, not happy. 

On the page, Emotional Wellness and Behavioral Specialist Kevin R. Strauss, M.E., writes, “People who are easily offended, most likely, have experienced emotional pain in their past, and could have lower overall emotional health. The more easily offended a person is the deeper their emotional pain probably is. Any similar experience can trigger a person emotionally because it reopens a wound or it could be a way of protecting themselves from experiencing again a similar pain from their past.”

This strengthens the position that healed people (people who deal with their trauma) are less likely to be easily offended, and it aligns with what I wrote in my Instagram post, as well.

In an academic paper presented by Frontiers in Psychology, it’s written that: “In social psychology research, the feeling of offense has been viewed so far as typically triggered by a blow to a person’s honor, hence to his/her public “face”; yet this painful emotion, beside nicking the reputation and self-concept of the offended person, is often felt also in interpersonal relationships, that it finally may seriously disrupt. Feeling offended belongs to the so-called “self-conscious emotions” (Lewis, 2008), like shame, guilt, and pride, and like shame and humiliation it is caused by a blow to the person’s image and self-image.”

One of the easiest ways to shift blame when your life is not as you hope (ie. not joyful), is to look at others and isolate them as the reason for this unhappiness. They are not making you happy. They are not responding to (xyz) as you expect them to. Rather than carefully analyzing why you would even need to control the situation/opinion/idea/dialogue, it is much easier to throw out the victimization card of, “I am offended.” But I get it – it’s an attempt to find a little bit of joy in an otherwise emotionally unfulfilling life.

And I’ve been there! When I was in my mid-twenties, having my spiritual awakening, and thinking I was superior to all (while simultaneously completely unfulfilled in life, unhappy in my relationships, and desperately trying to make my personal goals and dreams come true), I, too, was easily offended by so much. I, too, declared myself a feminist killjoy who screamed at everything and everyone in the name of justice.

But it is amazing how that all vanished when I became really, truly happy. And the first step for that was to invest in my healing (and I have completely eliminated my anxiety, depression, and PTSD through this work).

I do not get easily offended. I am not stressed by things I cannot control. I am not bothered by the opinions of others. I am not threatened by the Leftists pushing cancel culture. I am just living, unapologetically myself, living a life that is truly a fairy tale. I have no desire to cater to what makes others more emotionally comfortable if it is also requesting me to be someone I am not. 

As a truly happy person, my brain is being consistently fed serotonin and less of the stress hormone cortisol, and, as such, my reactions are less emotional or reactive (offended). According to Very Well Health, a positive mood or a happy life can lead to overall emotional health: negative emotional health was one of the reasons people are easily offended. 

My life is truly a beautiful fairy tale, but it is exceptionally beautiful because I am active in carefully selecting what I allow to “infiltrate my emotional space”. I am not stressed by delays, disruptions, disagreements. I am not offended by sarcasm or different opinions. I am not bothered by people who don’t like me, no matter how invalid (or valid) their reasoning may be. I am not moved by the desire to cancel everything that doesn’t align with my interests. I am living my life, my journey, on my own terms.

In addition, happier people are far less consumed by the ego that initiates “I AM OFFENDED” reactions. Happier people are on a path to Alignment, and there is a reason spiritual masters near and far refer to it as Nirvana. 

Truly nothing can shake you when you have made it to Nirvana.

Post Scriptum: To anyone (who is easily offended) who may read this and think, “Hypocrite, look you’re so offended you write a whole post about it,” – this is a reflection put into words in my personal space that no one is forced to access or read. I am not pushing my opinion, or ideas, or researched collection of thoughts onto anyone else. You have every right to read this and be offended; but that’s not on me, it’s on you and your own emotional health.

2 December, 2021


Author: Workers' Archive

Covering sensitivity at work and beyond on my website:

3 thoughts on “Are happy people less easily offended or emotionally triggered?”

  1. Dammit, I wrote a long comment on my phone and it was deleted. Let me try again. I hope I remember it all!:

    Thanks for sharing and for adding your thoughts! For the record, I absolutely agree with you. Especially when you mentioned, “Whilst their demands for outright legal censorship may undermine freedom of speech values, their demands not to be belittled or abused in normal interaction, whether in the form of humour or tradition, are completely reasonable.”

    I am in no way speaking about being /rightfully/ offended – I am specifically speaking to being emotionally triggered without reason or justification. As a queer sexual assault survivor, I do not believe in ever singling out someone or a group of people and trying to impose on their right to live happy lives and exist freely. But I do believe that people have a right to opinions and ideas that differ from the norm.

    When I wrote this, I was specifically referencing two things in my head:
    1. I got kicked out of a social group of mostly left leaning Americans women because my sarcastic humor and centrist opinions didn’t “fit the vibe they were going for”.
    2. I was dragged by Bookstagram for liking Harry Potter and was told that me reading and enjoying these books is transphobic and infringes on other people living full lives (it obviously doesn’t).

    These two examples just stress that the reactions were based on emotion rather than logic (1. They could have accepted that people think differently/ they could have ignored me, 2. They could scroll on/they can read whatever they want and someone reading a book that does not speak about hate to a group cannot actually be hateful just because you don’t like the creator). These reactions were based upon triggers, and triggers are usually the cause of trauma.

    As someone who had chronic depression, anxiety, and PTSD, after years of therapy and medication, I genuinely do not emotionally react (negatively) to stupid people with stupid ideas. Because at the end of the day they have exactly zero impact on my life.

    Another example: a family member “cancelled” me because I’m not the same religion and I have tattoos – this “offense” they took with me is evident of their issues and not my own in the end. Much like the people who cancelled me for the other examples I mentioned; it tells me more about them than about how “bad” I must be.

    I hope that explains my position a bit better!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Claudia, thanks, again, for letting me share your post and also, taking the time to read my part and writing your response (twice).

    Firstly, I’m glad to hear that your health conditions are more manageable after the treatments. It’s great that you can take that emotional detached stance about other people’s negative behaviours. That’s really positive and inspiring to hear. And sorry to hear about your situations of being excluded in those situations. I don’t know the full facts, clearly, but the way you have presented the situations lead me to think they might well be cases of intolerance to difference and examples of group think and/or narrow mindedness.

    I agree with you that personal emotional insecurity can be a reason that people cannot hear and engage opposing or differing views. It’s worrying that society, encouraged by online media, is falling into mutually exclusive bubbles and camps and can’t engage and cooperate more.

    I definitely believe that we need to, as a society, expose ourselves to opposing views and we will find commonalities. I suppose our futures depend upon it, as society depends on cooperation. Moreover, if we were at each other’s throats all the time, the governments and corporations will go about their business with even less accountability. It’s a recipe for an end of democracy.

    I do believe that social media censorship is very dangerous, especially, as it is such a vital tool for people in communicating and educating themselves about the world. However, we mustn’t forget the routine and extreme censorship that is carried out by governments and corporations, simply to entrench their power. An example that interests me is the treatment by the UK, at the behest of the US government, of Julian Assange, who remains in prision, subject to an appeal by the US on an extradition bid on charges of hacking. Assange’s organisation, Wikileaks, exposed the Iraq War logs and US role in brutal violence, including, possible human rights abuses. A key piece of leaked evidence was the helicopter shooting of two Reuters journalists in Iraq. The US had repeatedly refused to handover this footage to Reuters.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “I definitely believe that we need to, as a society, expose ourselves to opposing views and we will find commonalities. I suppose our futures depend upon it, as society depends on cooperation. Moreover, if we were at each other’s throats all the time, the governments and corporations will go about their business with even less accountability. It’s a recipe for an end of democracy.” – I love this. I also loving having a world that isn’t my echo chamber. I like to learn, even if it means I won’t share the person’s position at the end; respect from comes from understanding, not agreement.

      I didn’t even think to touch upon media censorship in my post, but I totally agree with you. Your example is heartbreaking. I think one-sided news is exceptionally dangerous. Especially since more of the news today is centered on one focus: making people afraid. Fear is the number one emotional motivator to influence control. Horrifying!

      Liked by 2 people

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