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Health & Wellness Articles  ›  Emotional Health

Common Myths about Happiness

-- By Leanne Beattie, Health & Fitness Writer
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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.
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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.

Member Comments

  • I loved this article. My long time favorite quote - that comes to my rescue in challening time is "Most people are as happy as they decide to be." by Abe Lincoln. It says it all and reminds you that no matter what is happening around you - you can choose to e happy. - 6/1/2014 8:27:31 AM
  • I like this a lot!!! I find that focusing on what I'm doing right does help me as far as weight loss and fitness go. - 2/25/2014 10:58:10 AM
  • PAUL_NEVISON
    This article has its merits in that it preaches positive thinking, but for likes of me when everything always seems to be a negative its hard to try and be positive about anything in life, life is just like that. If everyone was able to think positive/be positive about their lives i guess we would all be happy and the world itself would be good, sadly this is not the case and if it was the world itself would be out of balance...
    Happiness is a thing that comes and goes, no one can really control it, those who have it can just so easily see it slip out of their lives in a split second, not because they had negative thoughts or such, but because of external events not of their making/choice.
    Thats not to say people should not try to be positive in order to find happiness. - 11/17/2013 7:04:35 AM
  • RAVENCLAW-ANGEL
    Wow this article is fantastic and insightfully helpful! To finish the Sentence "“I could be happy if…” I almost instantly thought "if I let myself!" which with some thought adjustment I turned into "“I can be happy if I continue to exercise my skills” and "I will continue to be happy as I learn to empower myself!' I agree with the article that your attitude can define your perspective. Basing happiness on what ifs is a bit far fetched but employing a positive attitude and goals to work toward a stronger lifestyle perhaps is closer. I am already working to change my attitude and outlook by changing the way I think with DBT practice! - 11/11/2013 10:28:27 AM
  • Fantastic, thankyou ! - 11/11/2013 8:24:35 AM
  • Loved this article, very helpful! - 6/24/2013 11:06:23 PM
  • My immediate answer to the filling in the blank was "if i let myself". This article reminded me that i should take my own advice. I'm always telling my fiance to look at the bright side, the blessings, and stop focusing on the perceived problems. I should listen to myself more often. - 6/1/2013 3:39:08 AM
  • Finish this sentence: “I could be happy if…”

    Invalid premise, as completing the sentence automatically defines the happiness as a future event depending on a set of circumstances. Of course people who usually follow rules will pick some future, conditional event they believe will make them happier. That's what you asked them to do. That doesn't mean they aren't happy with their lives, or don't appreciate what they have and who they are. It just means they're trying to answer the question as it was asked. - 5/31/2013 11:06:16 AM
  • So true. Thanks for the reminder. - 5/31/2013 6:56:41 AM
  • NORMA1952
    Great insight! very inspirational. certainly put things in perspective!

    For Anne1123 & Butterflymajic the button for saving will only appear after you log in. - 5/31/2013 2:22:42 AM
  • This is a great article! Straight and to the point. Great advice. I love it! - 5/30/2013 9:14:59 PM
  • Love the positive!! Way to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    - 5/30/2013 1:37:09 PM
  • I wanted to add this to Favorites, too, sad that button isn't readily available any longer. - 5/30/2013 1:31:43 PM
  • I don't think that way about weight or trivial things. I know I can be happy if it was just that. But feeling insecure about my future or security in life is what makes me unhappy. Never know if I will be okay financially or for sure there will be a roof over my head or what will happen if this situation happens. Financial insecurity is what makes me not happy! - 5/30/2013 12:49:24 PM
  • Want to add this to favorites. But can't find the button. - 5/30/2013 10:46:09 AM