Sheldon Cooper, the eccentric genius from The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon might not seem particularly happy. At least, he doesn’t display positive emotions in the same way that most people do. Even considering that it’s very possible that Sheldon, unconstrained by the societal expectations that many “normal” people feel burdened by, might actually be happier than the average person, and it all comes down to psychology. To understand how Sheldon might be more content than the average person, we must first understand the depths of Sheldon’s genius.
Sheldon’s pretty even-keeled all told
Sheldon is a rare type of genius. He claims to have a photographic memory and seems compelled to remember every detail of his life. He can think about things in incredibly complex ways. While it might seem like he’s prone to tantrums, he’s actually not. In fact, he’s pretty even-keeled. It might not seem like it, but when you look at it from a different angle, he really is.
Sure, he’s inflexible, but he’s certainly not prone to bursts of overt anger. Sheldon, when he doesn’t get his way, is pretty calm about it. He just happens to be incredibly persistent and refuses to accept no for an answer. Sheldon is a genuinely consistent person, he consistently expects people to bend to his will, and they generally do.
Sheldon also doesn’t understand emotion, both in others and, in many cases, in himself. He doesn’t feel the pressure from the outside world that his best friend and roommate, Leonard Hofstadter, seems to be acutely tuned in to. So, is he happier than the average person, and does that mean geniuses are generally happier than others?
So, are geniuses happier than the average person?
Not exactly. In fact, those who bring significant contributions to the worlds of arts and sciences have often been more troubled than average people. Those who are considered extreme talents seem to be tortured by their own abilities in many ways. According to Inc., bright minds often measure themselves against a yardstick that is entirely unbeatable. At least that is Raj Raghunathan’s theory. Raghunathan is the author of If You’re So Smart, What Aren’t You Happy?.
Raghunathan notes that smart people make themselves vulnerable to unhappiness by focusing too intently on “winning” or achieving their goals. When one goal is achieved, another is right on the horizon. It can become a never-ending cycle, leading, frequently, to misery. That’s not to say that goal-orientated individuals are all unhappy; rather, they have a propensity to feel like they aren’t measuring up against an invisible yardstick.
Eccentric people, however, are happier than most
Sure, Sheldon is a genius, but there is more to his persona than his genius-level IQ. After all, all of his friends, save for Penny, can be considered incredibly bright. Leonard, Raj, Bernadette, Howard, and Amy are all incredibly accomplished, and their academic achievements are an indication of brilliant minds. While each character is quirky in their own way, the only one who can be considered genuinely eccentric is Sheldon.
According to Psychology Today, people who are considered eccentric have a tendency to be happier than other people. Those who are deemed unconventional tend not to care about societal norms or how they are viewed by the outside world. They also tend to indulge, more freely, in the things they like, which can lead to greater happiness.
In fact, Sheldon’s egocentric nature and his narcissistic tendencies may actually shield him against feeling depressed, and it might even prove that Sheldon doesn’t have a propensity towards mental illness, something his friends long assumed he had. Sheldon has always insisted his mother had him “tested” and that’s he’s “fine”, and that seems to be the case. Sure, Sheldon is strange, but it doesn’t seem to bother him. It’s entirely possible that he is happier than most people.