If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands (or not)

December 2, 2023 — by Annika Gho
Graphic by Amelia Chang

I never knew I clapped so much — there’s a lot to celebrate, I guess.

Friends let me know my clapping habit might be a little too enthusiastic. 

In a world of extreme “hustle” culture, it’s difficult to remain  constantly self-aware. And that is certainly the case for me. With my tendency to zone out in class and generally terrible punctuality, I’ve probably done something to annoy those around me. 

In order to explore how I am seen in my friends’ eyes, I was brave enough to ask them what subtle, annoying habits I have. 

At the top of the list: I clap my hands while I speak to emphasize what I say.   

For example, I may say something like: “The [clap] pasta [clap] is [clap] amazing!” 

This habit started during the pandemic, as emojis were essential to convey the tone of texts. So I put the clapping emoji (👏) between each word and spelled each WORD👏IN👏ALL👏CAPS to emphasize them. Returning to face-to-face contact after the pandemic, I somehow continued the habit in ordinary life.

Unfortunately, my friends unanimously agreed that this habit was extraordinarily annoying. 

Initially, I didn’t think it was a habit I needed to change. Clapping is meant to be congratulatory. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with being  overexcited or too encouraging. 

It can also be used to bring attention to what I say. I must admit, though, not everything I say is important. Overdoing the claps can make it easily look like sarcasm and undermine the value of someone’s words. For the receiver, it indirectly conveys the “duh” aspect and can be offensive.

One friend suggested that I keep a “Clap Jar,” where she can collect a dollar from me every time I clap when it’s unnecessary. I’m still thinking about this one, but I suspect that it may be just a scheme for her to earn free money from me. Still, maybe it will help motivate me to stop clapping the obvious. I must learn the comfort of resting my hands on my lap and save the claps for real congratulations.   

Almost every repeated misfortune can be because of a habit. They’re frustrating because we know the trouble it brings, and yet we can’t seem to detach ourselves from it. It’s only worse when it’s an “invisible habit” because we aren’t even aware of the consequences. And sometimes by the time we realize it, it’s beyond our control. 

While I’m sure there are a lot more things I can improve on, it all begins one step at a time. And once I’ve completed the first act, that’s when I’ll truly deserve a round of applause.  

Tags: Friend, habits
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