Common Myths about Happiness

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

This is a GREAT article!!!!! Report
Inspiring article. Report
Great Article Report
Great article ! In my almost 70 years I have learned to be happy with what you have, don't obsess over what you want to have. Choose a few good friends you can trust and rely on, don't hold a grudge. People you hate or detest probably don't know about it and wouldn't care if they did. Get involved in your kids as they grow teaching them respect and to live by their word, lead/teach by your actions and words. Kids grow up fast and we only have one chance. Rich or poor isn't important as long as you have basic necessities. One's work isn't important as long as it's legal and you do the best job you can at it. Treat others with respect and they shall respond in kind. Always greet people with a smile and a warm hello they will reciprocate in kind; if not, then don't worry and don't get angry, Just carry on Report
This is a great article. Money does not buy happiness! I learned that growing up. We were really poor, but never realized it, until I was in high school. My Mom and Dad always seemed like they enjoyed their life even tho we had very little. There was 6 of us kids and we are still very close. They are the best and life would be very difficult if they were gone. Enjoy every day - and be thankful! Report
This article is awesome and I wish some people in my family would read it. Happiness is a choice. What you choose to focus on. Get the negative mantras out of your head. Stop thinking I am not going to eat x anymore(some sugar fat filled substance) and start thinking that I'm going to eat an apple every time I grave x. Stop focusing on the past and start focusing on your progress. Happiness is a mindset. Choose it. You will be better for it. Report
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. Report
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. Report
Knowledge, perception and attitude! Report
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! Report
"Happiness is an inside job!" ~ William Arthur Ward Report
Good advice! Report
All so true! Thank you so much! Report
I need to work on this. Report
Great article and those are the things i practice these days and I feel wonderful. I just decided to be happy and I am. Report


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.
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