Happy Now? 10 Myths to Avoid
Have you heard about The Happiness Project? It’s a nonfiction book by Gretchen Rubin which enjoyed a good long run on the New York Times’ best sellers list. The author describes the book as “a memoir of the year I spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happy–from Aristotle to Martin Seligman to Thoreau to Oprah.”
From Julie and Julia to The Year Of Living Biblically there have been a lot of ‘live it and write it’ books out in the past couple of years but there is a special charm to the idea behind this one. Who wouldn’t want to be happier? There are a lot of theories about what makes us happy and if one person wants to test drive them for us, why not?
If you want to know what might make you happier, you’ll have to read the book but I was intrigued by a post on Gretchen’s blog that outlined ten things that didn’t work.
Lately, I’ve found myself frequently discussing several of ten common myths about happiness, so I decided to post the complete list here.
- Happy people are annoying and stupid. This is an automatic assumption that many people make.
- Nothing changes a person’s happiness level much.
- Venting anger relieves it.
- You’ll be happier if you insist on “the best.”
- A “treat” will cheer you up.
- Money can’t buy happiness.
- Doing “random acts of kindness” brings happiness. The emphasis here is on the word “random.”
- You’ll be happy as soon as you… Falling into the “arrival fallacy” is something that many people (including me) recognize in themselves.
- Spending some time alone will make you feel better.
- The biggest myth: It’s selfish to try to be happier.
Do any of these resonate with you? I have definitely struggled with the “arrival fallacy” in the past. It’s so easy to think that happiness is a location, that it’s a place you’re just not in at the moment and if you could only get to it happiness would be there waiting. It’s a tempting delusion. But happiness is not a place you get to, it’s a choice you make.
I remember a while back, reading through a blog and thinking “she’s living my dream life” but it’s the other side of the thought that has stayed with me. Yes, it’s easy to look at someone else’s life and wish for it, but it’s also entirely likely that someone, somewhere thinks that I am living the dream life. Maybe you are living the dream too.
Even if your dream life is screaming and refuses to take a nap, or your world trip has stranded you in a scary train station late at night or your dream job has you at the office late, again. It’s a good life. If you’re reading this odds are really good that you had supper last night, and breakfast this morning. You, like me, got to sleep in a comfy bed in a dark and quiet room. There are clothes in our closets and dreams in our hearts.
If we keep waiting to get to happiness, we run the risk of wasting a lot of time, and a lot of life. There are seasons when happiness is incredibly scarce. When someone you love is sick, or someone breaks your heart, it’s pretty hard to be happy. But for most of us, on average day, there’s plenty of reason to be happy if we take the time to look, if we choose to seek it out.
Life is too short to be miserable unless you really, really have to be. Is there a moment in your day today that can make you smile? Are you getting in the way of your own happiness? Which of the 10 myths resonates most with you? Tell us in the comments.
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