The 8 Myths of Happiness You May Unknowingly Believe

Happiness is one of the great mysteries of life. We continually wonder what will make us happy and try to work for more of it  - yet we often get frustrated and discouraged. Even with the best of intentions, we often unknowingly get in our own way.

The first step to happiness is becoming aware of where you are blocking your own path.

Here are eight myths about happiness that may be holding you back. Change them you and notice an immediate difference in how you feel!

Myth #1

You have to be perfect (or at least try) to be happy.

There’s a difference between striving for excellence and pursuing perfection. We often believe that being perfect can keep us safe from hurt, rejection, judgment, and failure. However, this actually works against us! Because the end goal of perfectionism is to get someone else’s approval, you end up doing things and being someone that does not actually make you happy.

Antidote: When you find yourself striving for perfection, embrace the 80% rule and focus on doing the best that you can at that moment! Remember, “done is better than perfect.” Consider: is it fear that is driving you? Or a desire to be of value? Whose approval are you seeking? Practice making it your own.

Myth #2

Engaging in habits that help you “check out” will make you happier.

There are a variety of things we do to ”unwind,” but in reality, we are checking out and avoiding uncomfortable feelings.  The obvious villains are food, alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes. But there are so many other more subtle “tools” that we use to numb our feelings: overextending ourselves, hanging out in overwhelm, worrying, internet surfing and overspending.  These behaviors may be immediately gratifying but over time, leave you disappointed in yourself and prevent you from dealing with what is actually making you unhappy.

Antidote: Next time you’re reaching for a cookie or glass of wine, take a moment to check in with your thoughts.  Are you feeling stressed or worried about something? Perhaps you’re feeling lonely or disconnected? Once you identify what you are feeling,  try taking an action that would actually help you to feel better. This may be connecting with a friend, finishing a project you’ve been putting off or getting some exercise!

Myth #3

Hiding out from the world makes you feel better.

When we feel unhappy, often the tendency is to hide from the world and isolate.  A little alone time is helpful, but being an island on your own is overrated. We feel happiest when we are connected to others. Going it alone may look impressive from the outside, but sharing yourself with those you can trust will help you feel understood, accepted, loved and happier – especially when you feel down.

Antidote: Although you don’t feel like it, often connecting with others is exactly what will make you feel better. Next time you feel like isolating, take a deep breath and call a friend, take a walk, or put yourself in a situation where you have the opportunity for positive interaction with others.

Myth #4

I’ll be happy once I __________.

Happiness and a mindset of scarcity or lack cannot coexist.  If you believe some part of yourself is not enough, you will live as if it’s true.  There is always an opportunity to find ourselves insufficient; then the trashy self-talk becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy! The truth is, you are enough when you are doing your best and are feeling proud of who you are.

Antidote: Next time you feel self-doubt, notice if it is tied to something you’re avoiding.  For example, if you’re feeling “not good enough” are you using it as a justification to not take a particular action, be vulnerable or stretch outside of your comfort zone?  Experiment with actually moving forward with what you are avoiding in spite of the self-doubt. This is what builds self-confidence!

Myth #5

If I feel too happy I’m just setting myself up for disappointment.

Experiencing happiness can be uncomfortable, scary and even a bit anxiety producing. Could feeling too joyful set us up to fail?  You may even think that if you don’t fully embrace happiness the bad stuff won’t be as painful. Don’t waste your joy! When hard times and challenges do come along, embracing times you do feel happy will make you stronger.

Antidote: Next time you feel resistance to allowing happiness in, bring your focus back to the present. Recognize at that moment, you are happy and everything is OK. The future is uncertain but living in the present moment will help you to not squander your joy!

Myth #6

Your happiness depends on someone else.

Often, we make our happiness contingent upon another person or their actions.   Doing so leaves you powerless and often feeling like a victim. While other people can and will bring you joy, placing your happiness in the hands of someone else is a dangerous game and puts a tremendous amount of pressure on others.  Taking responsibility for your own happiness can be initially uncomfortable, but it ultimately gives you greater power, autonomy, and control over your life.

Antidote: Next time you notice you are waiting for someone else’s approval or actions to make you happy, take a breath and check in with yourself.  What can you do at that moment to take responsibility for your own happiness? Reclaim your power and do something for yourself!

Myth #7

When life slows down I’ll be happier.

We often believe that life will get better “someday!” But time is your life going by.  If you postpone feeling and engaging in activities that make you happy now, you are wasting your precious time. Live as if every day is a gift. By embracing what brings you happiness today, you’ll create the life that you want in the here and now.

Antidote: Next time you catch yourself procrastinating taking an action that will bring you more happiness, stop and decide to do it anyway.  Focus on propelling yourself forward in the moment versus waiting for the “right” time.

Myth #8

It’s too late and too much has happened to be happy.

Our minds and bodies are incredibly resilient.  It’s never too late to recommit to yourself and find happiness. Living in the mindset of “it’s too late” is a cop-out that gives us permission to wimp out and not try.  You get to stay stuck, unhappy and justified. Often we’re scared to try because we are afraid of being vulnerable and failing.

Antidote:  Next time you catch yourself feeling life may be passing you by, deliberately take even a small action in the direction of your goals.  It is usually small but consistent actions that lead to accomplishment and happiness.

Christine Young