Happiness is almost certainly close to the top of most people’s wish list for life, but many struggle to maintain it for any length of time because of certain destructive beliefs they hold.
In this article, we’ll dispel 9 of the most common myths we tell ourselves, so that they no longer keep you in a state of perpetual unhappiness.
Myth #1: My Happiness Depends On People And Events I Do Not Control
A widely held misconception about happiness is that it is dependant on the words and actions of other people, and on the circumstances you find yourself in.
While you may often experience happiness in the company of others or when events have gone your way, to say that it can only come about because of these things is quite untrue.
In fact, while people and events play their part in both enabling and preventing happiness, the underlying forces are quite different. We are happy when our worries, concerns, fears, and anxieties dissolve in the universal solvent of the present moment.
As our minds let go of all our burdens, space opens up for something else – that something is very often happiness. People and events can help us enter the now and purge ourselves of any troubles we may face, or they can provide us reason to be troubled – but they can only do either if we let them.
Just as you can find moments of bliss in times of great upheaval, you can be plagued by dark clouds in your mind despite the apparent peace of your current situation.
Myth #2: My Happiness Will Come When I Finally Have [X]
Another belief about happiness that often prevents us from feeling it is that we will find it as soon as we achieve or possess something.
We may tell ourselves that happiness will manifest itself as soon as we get that promotion, earn more money, own that house, go on that trip, find that special someone, accomplish that goal, or have that family.
This is a problem because we can’t accurately predict what the future might have in store for us. If we allow our happiness to depend so greatly on the acquisition of certain things, then we set ourselves up for disappointment when they do not come about.
This ties very closely in with the points made in myth number one; we strive to attain particular goals in order to free ourselves from the pain and unease we feel, but our happiness is not and cannot be reliant on external experiences and stimuli.
Myth #3: Nothing Good Ever Happens To Me
Some people suffer from a very insidious belief that they are destined to be unhappy; that good things are never on their personal horizon.
Unfortunately, it is this very mindset that often prevents happiness from erupting spontaneously in their lives. When you indulge in this very pessimistic way of thinking, it interferes with the way you perceive the world around you. It blinds you to any potential source of happiness and makes you hypersensitive to all the things you perceive as negative.
You literally miss out on happiness because you are convinced it is not there and because you’re too busy looking for all the unwelcome things. This focus makes you believe in your own bad luck and in the good luck of others, whether or not it has any basis in reality.
Myth #4: Negative Thoughts Or Feelings Are Bad
A common misunderstanding about happiness is that it dies when negative thoughts or feelings occur, when, in fact, it can be during these times when the seeds of happiness are sown.
The reason for this is that when we express these thoughts and feelings, it forms part of a healing process that culminates with us accepting and moving on from them. If we try to repress these feelings, we are unable to process and resolve their root cause. They then fester within our unconscious minds, dragging us down like weights around our necks.
A healthy approach to all feelings – positive and negative – is to let them erupt from within and show on the surface. As long as you are not harming others, it is ok to feel sad, hurt, or even angry; even as you do so, your mind will begin to come to terms with what has happened and eventually it will pass.
A feeling that is expressed, resolved, and accepted is one that soon fades and this then allow happiness to spring forth once more. Holding back your feelings creates a barrier to happiness.
Myth #5: What I Think About A Situation Is Right
Happiness is often broken by confrontation with other people. This occurs when your thoughts about something clash with those of someone else.
This problem lies in a person’s refusal to accept that what they think may not be an absolute fact or truth. Whenever this happens, it is likely to be only a matter of time before an argument occurs, inevitably shattering the peace and happiness that might have preceded it.
What’s more, it needn’t even be a physical argument with another person because just the awareness of opposing views can create an internal dispute within the mind. You may read, hear, or watch other opinions being expressed and find yourself getting worked up over them.
Whenever you are unable to accept that your view may not be the only view, happiness will struggle to grow.
We’ve already talked about how events, possessions, and achievements do not control your level of happiness, but there is a lot to be said for trying and experiencing new things.
It is the act of trying and learning that gives foundations to happiness rather than whether or not you succeed, but too many of us are stuck in the belief that failing is a bad thing.
When you fear failure, you neglect to even make an attempt and this gives you zero chance of enjoying the act of doing and trying. It’s like going to the beach and not building a sandcastle because you know the tide washing it away – you miss out on all the fun to be hand in building it in the first place.
Accepting that failure is not entirely bad frees you from the prison of inaction which, in turn, opens up the door to the potential of happiness.
Myth #7: Asking For Help Is A Sign Of Weakness
When we are struggling with a particular problem or emotion, the internal environment is not one in which happiness can exist. So, the sooner we are able to deal with it, the sooner we can once again welcome happiness into our lives.
You’d think, then, that asking others for help would come easy to us because we’d see it as a way to hasten our journey back to a happy state of mind. Yet, many people see asking for help as a sign that they are weak or incapable.
This false belief perpetuates our suffering by preventing us from seeking solutions outside of our own minds. Overcome this lie and you will spend less of your time consumed with troublesome issues and feelings which, once again, gives you more time to enjoy a state of happiness.
Myth #8: My Past Prevents Me From Being Happy
Quite often, those who struggle to find happiness in their lives do so because of some trauma or event in their past. They believe that the negative things that have come before prevent them from experiencing happiness in the present.
While past events can linger in the mind for an entire lifetime, the feelings that go with them do not have to mean an existence devoid of happiness. After all, happiness is only truly felt when the mind is fully present; in this state, no memories or past ills can get in.
So, however distressing the events of your past may be, the memories and feelings can only form barriers to happiness if you let them. There is nothing to say they can’t be overcome.
Myth #9: You Can’t Learn Happiness
Some people are just more downbeat than others and that’s the way it has to be – or at least, this is what many come to believe.
Actually, there is nothing stopping you from making happiness more natural and habitual than it is now. More and more research is showing that a positive outlook, one that encourages more frequent spells of happiness, is something that can be learned.
There are things you can do to instill this attitude in yourself, including, but not limited to, exercise, diet, mediation, mindfulness, gratitude and finding a balance between work and play.
Has your happiness been held back by one or more of these myths? Leave a comment below and share your experiences and thoughts.