Happiness is a loaded word and has different meanings for different people. Some see it as all about pleasure: surface-deep, short-lived and mainly found through external means. Others use the word to mean wellbeing: deeper, meaningful and connected with ongoing life satisfaction coming from within. Let's look at five myths that surround happiness.
art by @verginermatt
Myth1: You're born happy or you're not, it's not something you can change.
It may surprise you to know you have more influence over your own happiness than you may have given yourself credit for. Research has found that between 25% - 35% of your happiness is determined by your genes, and 10% - 15% by your potential. Around 50% of how happy you can be in your life is determined by you and your own actions.
Myth2: Happiness is a goal to strive for and reach.
You can pursue a moment of happiness and experience it, but once that moment of pleasure is over you're back to how you felt before. Studies have shown that, although lottery winners experience an initial boost in happiness levels, within a year they return to their original level.
Myth3: It's selfish to think about your own happiness.
Many people have the view that focusing on your own happiness must mean you are self-centred, narcissistic, and selfish. If it was all a person thought about then, yes, I might agree. If, however, a person is trying to be happy reflects an inner self-seeking it's unlikely they are self-absorbed. Happy people spread happiness. Social scientists shows that your positive, happy attitude and actions not only rub off on your friends, but also their friends, and in turn, their friends, three people removed from you. You can see the impact of the ripple effect all around you.
Myth4: To be happy you can never be sad.
While fully in a happy moment you aren't sad, but that hedonic kind of pleasure isn't a permanent state of being. Actually wellbeing is about experiencing a range of feelings, not just the positive ones. Denying difficult feelings doesn't guarantee happiness. How well could you recognised calm and ease if you've never felt stress or pressure?
Myth5: If I let myself be happy something bad is bound to happen.
Many people be struck with the fear that something will happen to take away the happy feeling and replace it with pain. Actually happiness-joy, could becomes the most terrifying emotion because to experience it you become vulnerable. People think that if they keep their joy down to a certain level, that they are protecting themselves from the hurt and pain. But that isn't true. Keeping happiness as a form of protection, it stops you from living your life to the fullest now, from experiencing happiness now. Instead of allowing fear to take over from joy, practice gratitude, recognise how grateful you are to have whatever's going right for you.
Happiness comes in waves. It'll find you again._
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