To start living the life you want
Have you ever met a truly happy person? The type of person who simply seemed to exude positive energy? You wish you could walk up to them and ask, “what’s your secret?”
Ever find yourself saying, “I’ll be happy when I get my dream job” or “I’ll be happy when I meet the right partner”? If you think like this you could be waiting your whole life for happiness to happen.
Each of us defines happiness differently; it’s something we all strive for. Many of us buy into these myths and base our happiness on false beliefs and nine out of ten times when we do get that dream job or the perfect partner guess what? We’re still not happy.
The problem is that we are searching for happiness in the wrong places. Here are three of the most common happiness myths preventing you from living the life you want:
1. Happiness is based on external circumstances
Yes, it’s true we experience joy from other people, our careers and our success. It does happen. The problem is that those external things aren’t reliable. They eventually fail. People are imperfect, jobs become frustrating, and the world doesn’t always conform to our wishes. Life is inevitably filled with ups and downs.
For example, getting the new car you want will initially make you happy. Eventually, however, the car will need to be repaired, or you will have an accident. Or the newness wears off. You might find yourself wishing for an even newer car with fancier seats and more gadgets.
At first, the car is a wish and a goal. Then, the car is the successful outcome of your process toward that goal. Later, the car comes to represent something you no longer want.
The bottom line: if you’re looking for lasting happiness, it won’t help to indulge in an endless search for external gratification of ever-changing wants and needs.
2. Happiness is genetic
Of course there are those who are more inclined to being happy, but your genes can only take you so far. In fact, most of it is entirely up to you.
“You can teach yourself optimism and happiness just like you teach yourself a new language,” according to Shawn Achor, author of Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change. “You’ll be just your genes unless you make positive habits in your life.”
When I think about my own life, the challenges and moments of joy, the times of trouble and periods of hope, I realize that with happiness comes an ability to see what’s already good in life, gratitude for what exists and is positive.
3. Happiness can only exist without sadness or negativity
We’ve all experienced negative emotions and know how uncomfortable they are and how tempting it is to subdue them. When we’re feeling sad, angry or anxious, we want, more than anything, to make that feeling go away. However, as with any emotion, it’s fleeting; it’s impossible to feel happy all the time, sad all the time and so on. So, when you’re going through a tough time, you simply have to ride the wave and have faith that the storm will pass.
In Lee Crutchley’s book, How to Be Happy (or at Least Less Sad), he explains:
It’s ok to feel happy, and it’s ok to feel sad. It’s perfectly natural. The same as it’s ok to feel angry, or grateful, or jealous, or proud, or… you get the idea. Happiness and sadness are both feelings – neither one is right, and neither one is wrong. The sooner you accept that you cannot protect yourself from sadness, the sooner you will stop protecting yourself from happiness.
Happiness is something that we want to hold on to and make last forever. It took me a long time to realize that happiness is more than simply a feeling; it’s a state of being. I’ve learned that happiness is not based on conditions – it’s based on accepting and being grateful for where you are right here, right now. While there will always be highs and lows in life, we have the ability to experience contentment every day.
Aristotle once said, “To live happily is an inward power of the soul.” Happiness definitely takes work, but the end result is worth it.