We all want to be happy, and many of us spend a lot of time and energy pursuing that elusive feeling. But, happiness myths might be getting in your way. Despite our best efforts, we can find ourselves feeling unhappy or unfulfilled, and wondering where we went wrong.
The truth is, there are many happiness myths and misconceptions that can actually prevent us from finding it. In this blog, I’ll explore five common happiness myths that may be making you unhappy. And, I’ll provide insights and tips to help you break free from these misperceptions and find true happiness in your life.
Are you struggling to find joy in your day-to-day routines or simply looking for ways to enhance your overall well-being? Read on to discover the truth about what it takes to be truly happy.
There are several prevailing happiness myths:
Happiness Myth 1: Money and possessions bring happiness.
Reality: While money can help alleviate financial stress and provide comfort, studies have shown that beyond a certain level of income, additional money does not lead to increased happiness. A study by researchers Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2010, found that up to a certain point, higher income is associated with greater levels of happiness. However, this effect levels off at around $75,000 to $95,000 per year in the United States. Updated for inflation, that accounts for the current news that you now need $115,000 a year for maximum happiness.
Of course, we all know that possessions provide temporary pleasure, but do not contribute to long-term happiness. This is thanks to our tendency for hedonistic adaptation. Bummer we have that or we’d all be content with what we have and could stop looking for new and better! Now, the trend is to declutter and get rid of your belongings to reduce anxiety, stress and be happier as a result.
Can money make you happier? Yes, of course, but you’ve got to spend it the right way.
Happiness Myth 2: Happiness is a constant state of mind.
Reality: Happiness is a fluctuating emotion that can be influenced by external circumstances such as relationships, health, and career. It is perfectly normal to experience a range of emotions, including sadness and stress. In fact, feeling negative or difficult emotions enables you to appreciate happy times all the more.
There is a growing cultural emphasis on the pursuit of happiness, and many people feel pressure to be happy all the time. This pressure can come from social media, where people often showcase their happiest moments and create a “highlight reel” of their lives. It can also come from societal expectations that success and happiness go hand in hand.
However, the idea that people should be happy all the time is a myth. Life is full of ups and downs, and it’s normal to experience a range of emotions, including sadness, frustration, and anger. In fact, research suggests that people who accept and embrace their negative emotions are more likely to experience overall well-being and life satisfaction.
It’s okay to feel a range of emotions throughout life. Rather than striving for constant happiness, try cultivating a sense of purpose and meaning in your life. Develop strong relationships and engage in activities that bring you a sense of fulfillment and joy.
Happiness Myth 3: Happiness is the absence of negative emotions.
Reality: Happiness is not the absence of negative emotions but rather the ability to cope with them effectively. Experiencing a range of emotions is a normal part of the human experience. Learning to manage negative emotions can actually contribute to greater overall happiness. You can increase your emotional IQ instantly by taking this free quiz.
To learn more about your personal and emotional needs you can read my book, The Secret Laws of Attraction: The Effortless Way to Get the Relationship You Want.
Or, take the Emotional Intelligence course.
Happiness Myth 4: Happiness is a destination.
Reality: Happiness is not some Shangri-La that can be reached. Rather, it is an ever-changing journey that is influenced by our daily experiences and choices. It is a process of learning and growth that requires ongoing effort and attention.
Culturally, we have bought into the prevailing myth that to be happy you need to go to school and find a great job. Earn an above-average salary, then retire at 65 and really start enjoying life.
Much better to find happiness throughout life rather than defer joy until retirement! Don’t follow the standard script if that isn’t bringing you joy. Shake things up. Retire early. Travel. Do work you love now and don’t postpone the good times for the future. Start living your ideal life now!
Happiness Myth 5: Happiness is determined by external factors.
Reality: External factors can influence our happiness, such as finding the right relationship and finding a job that we enjoy. However, research has shown that happiness comes from within and is mainly determined by our mindset and attitudes. First, there is no one “right” choice in life that will guarantee happiness. Life is complex, and there are many factors that influence our happiness, including genetics, personality, and life circumstances. Even if we make what we believe to be the “right” choice, we may still experience challenges and difficulties that can affect our happiness.
Second, the idea that happiness is based on external circumstances, such as a good marriage or a great job, overlooks the role of internal factors on happiness. Your mindset, attitudes, and ability to cope with challenges have a significant impact on your feeling happy.
Finally, the myth of making the right choices can create a sense of pressure and anxiety, as we feel that our happiness depends on making the perfect decision. This can lead to indecision and a fear of making mistakes, which can ultimately hinder our happiness.
While making positive choices in life helps contribute to overall happiness, it is not the sole factor. Happiness is influenced by a range of internal and external factors such as genetics and your personality. More optimistic or extroverted people tend to rate themselves as happier than introverted pessimists.
Finding true joy is an evolving and dynamic experience. What made you happy in your youth may not make you happy today.
Happiness is largely determined by internal factors such as mindset, attitudes, and coping strategies, more so than external circumstances such as wealth or status.
These findings and others have contributed to a more nuanced understanding of happiness and helped dispel some of the common myths surrounding it.
What is the one thing that everyone could do to be happier right now?
If there were one thing that everyone could do to be happier now, it would be to practice gratitude. People who focus on appreciating the positive aspects of their lives experience greater levels of happiness and well-being overall.
Studies have shown that people who regularly practice gratitude experience a range of benefits, such as increased happiness, improved physical health, stronger relationships, and reduced stress and negative emotions.
Practicing gratitude can be as simple as taking a few minutes each day to reflect on the things in your life that you are thankful for. This could include loved ones, personal accomplishments, or simply the beauty of nature around you.
You can also try writing down what you are grateful for in a journal. Or, express your gratitude to others by writing thank-you notes or simply telling someone what you appreciate about them.