Happiness means different things to different people, and just as varied is what brings on happiness. But, despite these differences, experts have uncovered some common misconceptions about happiness. Let’s debunk these happiness myths.
1. Happiness is genetic. Some people may be more predisposed to happiness, but this is one thing you can’t blame on your parents. Genetics only tell part of the story. The encouraging news is that you can learn to be happy even if you’re not born that way.
2. Happiness comes from external sources. According to happiness expert Shawn Achor, external forces are only responsible for about 10 percent of long-term happiness. The rest, 90 percent, comes from the way your brain processes what goes on around you. You may not be able to change others, you can change the way you react to them.
3. Money can’t buy happiness. Researchers have found that spending money on experiences such as vacations with family and friends or buying gifts for other people can make people happier. It’s not the material goods that make the difference, it’s the experiences that can be had that do bring smiles to faces.
4. Happy people never experience sadness. It’s unrealistic to think happy people aren’t ever sad. Denying negative feelings can actually have the opposite effect. The difference is that happy people deal with difficult situations in a way that is rational and productive and don’t let the negativity consume them.
5. Happiness comes when you achieve a goal. How many times have you thought, “I’ll be happy when I ____ ?” The problem is that once the goal is achieved, most people have set themselves up to expect it, therefore it’s no longer seen as an achievement. The greater happiness comes in setting a goal and working towards it.
6. Happy people are naïve. According to happiness researchers, the opposite is true. When you’re happier, your brain is more active and more receptive to learning. Happy people tend to be more creative, better able to solve problems and score higher on intelligence tests.
7. A treat will make you happy. Most of the time, the “treats” we turn to may give us a quick boost thanks to the impact they have on serotonin levels, but that joy is short lived. And, since these treats usually are not healthy, the long-term effect is more likely to be detrimental. Instead of reaching for sugar or salt, give yourself a treat by going for a walk outside.
8. Venting will make you happier. Giving a voice to negative feelings only serves to fuel the negative emotions. Instead of focusing on whatever is upsetting you, force yourself to be change your emotions. Act happy, even if you don’t feel it at the moment. In no time at all, you may actually be happy.
9. Being alone will make you feel happier. Next time you want to just keep to yourself, consider this: researchers say everything is more fun with company.
What all this really means is that you don’t have to go through life being unhappy. Happiness is achievable for everyone, it’s just a matter of realizing you can be happy and you deserve to be happy. All you need to do is think happy, act happy, and be happy.