Health & Wellness Articles

Common Myths about Happiness

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Finish this sentence: “I could be happy if…”

Did you answer something like, “If I lost 15 pounds,” “if I got that promotion,” or “if I had more money”? If so, you’re not alone.

For many people, happiness is some elusive thing that’s always out of reach. You’re never happy right here and now—your happiness depends on something that’s got to happen in the future, something outside of yourself. You can’t be happy with the way things are because your life isn’t perfect. And if you’re happy with your current life, then you’re “settling” for the life you have.

One of the main tenets of Buddhism states that simply wanting people, things or situations creates unhappiness. For example, if you didn’t want that new car then you’d be happy with the one you already own. It’s not your old car that is causing your unhappiness, but the desire for the car that you don’t have.

Too often we put our lives on hold. Instead of appreciating the way things are right now, we believe that we’ll only be happy if external conditions were met. Instead of relying on these outside factors, you must learn to turn inward and realize that your happiness depends on only one thing—your very own thinking.

The way you think about a situation frames your entire perception. For example, you may need to lose some weight. Instead of moaning as you get on the scale to see that you only lost one pound this week, think about all the positive things you did for your body, from walking every day to eating more vegetables. Even a small weight loss improves your cardiovascular health, so appreciate how far you’ve progressed and recommit your efforts to keep doing what’s best for your long-term goals.

The same thing goes with work. Instead of fixating on everything that you don’t like about your job, change the way you think about it. If you have a hard time dealing with a difficult co-worker, reframe your thinking and realize that you are learning valuable coping skills every time you have to interact with that person. This doesn’t mean that you have to go through life putting up with less than ideal situations, however. By all means keep looking for something better—just don’t put your life and happiness on hold until you change jobs.

Instead of concentrating on your flaws or the things you lack, focus on your strengths and blessings. You may be overweight, but you’re driven to improve your body. You may be single, but you have countless opportunities to meet the right person. You may have money problems, but you are creative and can think of multiple ways to bring in new income or cut down on debt.

Having a sense of gratitude about the people and things in your life is another way of feeling happy with what you have. Take a few minutes before bed to list the good things that happened today, from enjoying your favorite cup of coffee to meeting a great new friend. It’s not the big events in life that make us happy but the small, almost unnoticed, things that add up to a satisfying life.

The only constant you will have in your life is your relationship with yourself. People will come and go, material possessions can be taken away or lost, but you will always remain. And how you feel about yourself will make a big difference in how you interpret your life.

Remember—you can’t change your weight, finances, or job in a day, but you can always change your thinking. While thinner thighs or a fatter bank account would be nice, true happiness can only be found by viewing your life—and yourself—in a positive light. You are more than your body, your house and car. By appreciating your blessings, and focusing on the positive—you can be happy right now, at this moment—so stop waiting for future happiness when it can be yours today!

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Member Comments

  • Great article ... I would add that a new promotion or things can give you a short term happiness, but over the long term, you need that inner joy that will stick with you through tough times or good times.
  • This is a fabulous article. I agree that gratitude and acknowledging all the "little things" are what, in the end, equate to a life of satisfaction and a feeling of a life well lived. There are no small miracles. Every breath we take is a gift and a miracle in and of itself.
  • Knowledge, perception and attitude!
  • I love this article. I was just having this conversation with my husband yesterday. He keeps saying things to me about changing OUR lives, finding OUR happiness - and I keep trying to explain to him that I'm happy with my life, I'm doing what I choose to do and it works for me. Wishing for things I don't have, and probably can't have at this place in my life, just makes me unhappy; so why do it!
  • "Happiness is an inside job!" ~ William Arthur Ward
  • BOOKNUT52
  • SARA-SMILE2017
    All so true! Thank you so much!
  • I need to work on this.
  • Great article and those are the things i practice these days and I feel wonderful. I just decided to be happy and I am.
  • I stumbled upon this article in what just might be the nick of time. I really needed these words today. I'm going to really try to put a positive spin on things, and write down the small joys each day. Thank you for this!
  • I am grateful for this article. I am one of those people who has a hard time staying in the present moment. I feel that too often I am either dreading what's coming in the future or looking back at the past and regretting choices I made or paths I took. I do keep bringing myself back to the present with the Serenity Prayer, but a mental shift from a negative outlook to a positive one takes daily practice. For me, it's just as important to write in my Gratitude Journal as it is to get in my daily walk! Thanks again!
  • Wow--some of these comments are so salty! I answered "I could be happy if..." with "...um, I already am!" and realized just how powerful that is. Sure, sad things happen to people and sadness will come and go, but happiness is truly a here-and-now thing and we have a great deal of control over our own well-being. Sadness is not the opposite of happiness, depression is (not clinical, but situational). As a nurse and a converted humanist/atheist with Buddhist leanings, it surprises me to see how many people just can't be happy wherever they are. I find happiness in my family, in helping the homeless, in driving to work, in morning coffee. It's there. Pay attention to it!
  • SAVVY28
    This is a great article. I never even thought about the stress my goals add to my life and thereby the happiness they're taking away. Not that goals are bad, but I tend to get so consumed by them that I'm abusively critical of myself every time I realize I haven't met my goals yet. :) Excellent post.
  • AERO_NERDETTE
    I try to seek joy in the moments of each day, changing the introductory sentence to "I feel my (blank) WHEN:"

    Then I finish the phrase with things that make me feel positive emotions. For example:

    I feel my strongest when I finish a really tough workout.
    I feel most loved when I cuddle with my husband before bed.
    I feel most energized when I eat healthy food.
    I feel most at peace when I get to enjoy nature.
  • It is good to be reminded of this often. Thanks.

About The Author

Leanne Beattie Leanne Beattie
A freelance writer, marketing consultant and life coach, Leanne often writes about health and nutrition. See all of Leanne's articles.