Monday, January 20, 2014

10 Common Myths About Happiness

"We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have." 
Friedrich Koenig 

Do you ever struggle with feeling happy or staying happy? Many of us have a tough time staying full on the seemingly ever-elusive "happiness elixir". Growing up I had many misconceptions about happiness. Unfortunately, many of us still carry around those misconceptions today. Below are ten common myths about happiness I figured out were not true which has helped me identify and embrace authentic happiness in my life. I hope it does the same for you.

1.     Happy people don’t get sad.

 I wish. That is an age old myth…you can be a happy person and still get sad or upset once in a while about things in your life that you don’t like.  That doesn’t mean you’re an unhappy person, it means you’re human.

2.       Happy people don’t make mistakes.

Get that fairytale out of your head. All people make mistakes. We are human, it comes with the territory.

3.       Your happiness depends on other people.

Nope. Happiness is a CHOICE state of being. Your happiness depends on being in a state of gratitude and doing the things YOU enjoy that give YOU pleasure and make YOU smile.

4.       You must have X amount of money or X amount of cars or X amount of Christian Louboutin stilettos to be happy.

I am still waiting on the research that shows being rich is synonymous with being happy. If you find it, please email it my way.

5.       Once you choose happiness, nothing bad will ever happen to you again in life.

Truth is, life is a packaged deal, with the good AND the bad...the pleasure AND the pain. Even though most of us don’t like to hear it, bad things are as important and purposeful in our lives as the good things we enjoy. After all, how can we ever be truly grateful for the good in our lives if we have never endured the bad?

6.       Choosing happiness is EASY.

 I mean who doesn’t want to be happy right? Wrong. It is one of the HARDEST choices to make, that’s why so many people are unhappy! Forget what people say, it is much more attractive to be angry and miserable because then you can go around blaming the world for everything you don’t like about your life and give yourself some sort of validation for your nasty and insensitive behavior towards others. It is so much harder to work at seeing the bright and positive side of things when many people in the world around you are continuously breathing in and out unhappiness, sadness, and misery. It would be much EASIER to accept the sadness around and go with the “if you can’t beat them, join them” mindset. You have to really DESIRE and be DETERMINED to choose happiness as your way of life if that is what you want.

7.   Happiness can cure cancer. 

Sadly no. But it can make life challenges, like cancer, more bearable than you ever thought possible and even offer up plenty of magical and laughable moments along the way.
8.   Happy people are “fake” or “pretenders”.

That is the first thing an unhappy person always says when referring to a happy person. This is expected because unhappy people tend to believe that negativity and misery are the “natural” ways to be, since life can be so tough and cruel at times. They can’t fathom someone being strong enough to make the choice to be happy in spite of their not-so-pleasant circumstances.  Sometimes you will feel like a “fake” yourself because of your EGO. Just like our critics, we happy people sometimes like to think that because we’re happy that means we’ve been transformed into these somewhat “perfect” entities and we are no longer susceptible to the temptations that other not-so-happy people are subject to. Not so. We still have to be on TOP GUARD of our minds and spirits because we will most definitely be challenged and on occasion we will fail too. 

9.   Happiness can survive in unhappy environments.

 Lies you tell. It can do no such thing. So many times we wonder why it’s so hard to hold on to happiness in our lives. Have you taken a look at your environment lately? Who do you spend your time with? Best friend? Co-workers? Family members? Gossip sites? If you have anyone or anything around you that is unhappy and constantly negative (complaining, criticizing), chances are A LOT a little bit of that negativity will rub off on you and it will become increasingly difficult for you to maintain your own happiness. Actively seek to be around people with a positive disposition and a clear sense of purpose so that you encourage and support each other. 

10.   Unhappy people can be happy for other people. 

Hmm…let’s see. A person consumed by sadness and hopelessness who can’t figure out how to be happy for him/herself is supposed to be able to muster up enough happiness for you and the great things you’ve got going on in your life? Yeah, right. I used to think so. Until it dawned on me I had never met one unhappy person who could successfully do that, including myself. We must have happiness within ourselves to pull from to give to someone else. So "check your ego" and stop expecting people who are dealing with unhappiness in their life to somehow pause it and find a way to be happy for you. It won't work. I’m sorry but yes, there are limits to our human capabilities. Offer love and understanding instead and hopefully the person, or people, will eventually garner enough strength and courage to become happy within themselves and consequently authentically happy for you and others.

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  1. Nicely written. Everyday I'm starting to see the importance of surrounding oneself with positive people. But it's good to be around negative people sometimes, just so you can strengthen your compassion shield. You never know who might break you down.

    1. Thank you RaSoul! When we encounter negativity from people during our day it is definitely an opportunity to exercise and enhance our capacity for compassion, just like you said (just be careful not to invite negative energy in).

      I definitely get tested on my compassion threshold continuously; most times I pass but sometimes I unfortunately allow my emotions to take me for a negative spin. What I've learned, as a person who practices mindfulness, is that the more we put effort into being compassionate the more compassionate we will inevitably become over time.

  2. Ah, so many basic truths in this post. Love it.

  3. Thank you Jas! I've been making the conscious decision to be mindful of and open to each moment and the life truths they hold.