People assume that if you are happy, you must be smiling, laughing, or doing something upbeat like dancing in joy.
However, happiness is not always a smile, and a smile does not always belong to a happy person.
You can be happy without smiling or being loud and obvious.
You may express your happiness with a pleasant surprise or a contented sigh.
Happiness can be sitting on a hilltop bench, watching the sunset. It can mean being so deeply immersed in something that you lose track of time. It may even show up as tears.
Happiness is not one-dimensional. Quiet joy, serene contentment, and boisterous excitement, all contribute to our overall well-being.
10 Myths of Happiness Debunked
Do not wait for something important (such as a large sum of money, a new job, or a new partner) before allowing yourself to be happy.
Perhaps the biggest myth of happiness is this: “I will be happy when…”
Here are the ten most common myths of happiness:
Myth 1. Happiness is a constant state.
Truth: No, Sir. Happiness is not a constant state.
You may often fall for the idea that once you have achieved a particular thing, you will be happy forever.
Many of us believe that happiness is a constant state, and once that butterfly perches on us, it will live forever.
Happiness is actually a fluctuating state that can change based on your mood, thoughts, and experiences.
Everyone has moments of joy, contentment, and satisfaction. As well as moments of sadness, disappointment, and frustration. That’s what life is.
You will never find happiness that stays at the same level forever.
Myth 2. Happiness depends on our circumstances.
Truth: Happiness is not solely dependent on external circumstances.
Many people believe how much happy we depend on how good are our external factors such as wealth, fame, or success.
While external factors can bring temporary pleasure, true happiness comes from within. In fact, according to The Happiness Formula, only 10% of your total happiness depends on your circumstances.
Your happiness depends more on your mindset and perspectives. You can cultivate it through practices such as mindfulness, gratitude, and self-care.
Myth 3. Money can buy happiness.
Truth: Money can’t buy happiness; it can bring temporary pleasure.
Money is often thought to be the key to happiness, but research has shown that once basic needs are met, additional wealth does not lead to a significant increase in overall happiness.
True happiness comes from the quality of our relationships, our sense of purpose, and the activities we engage in, not just material possessions.
To know all about it, read this: The Psychology of Happy Money: How Can Your Money Buy Happiness?
Myth 4. Happiness is not having negative emotions.
Truth: Happiness is not merely an absence of negative emotions.
You may not have any illnesses, but it does not mean you are completely healthy. It’s the same with happiness.
People often believe that happiness is the absence of negative emotions such as sadness, anger, or anxiety.
However, it is not possible to eliminate negative emotions entirely.
Moreover, it’s not healthy to suppress them.
Happiness means having fewer negative emotions as well as more positive emotions.
Myth 5. Happiness is only for special people.
Truth: Happiness is not just for special people.
No matter what anybody tells you, happiness is not just for like the lucky or the wealthy ones among us.
Happiness is a universal human experience that is available to everyone, not just special people.
More surprise: The common belief that poor people are unhappy by definition is wrong.
- In fact, this study found that people living in slums have greater levels of life satisfaction than we might expect, given their poverty and circumstances (Sulkers & Loos, 2022).
- Similarly, in a study among the poorest of the poor in South Africa, researchers found that landfill waste pickers scored higher on life satisfaction than the national average (Blaauw et al., 2020).
Some people may have a natural disposition towards happiness, but it is a state that can be cultivated and nurtured through various means.
Myth 6. Happiness is only for the present moment.
Truth: Happiness is not just for the present moment.
Some say, “If you’re not happy about this now, you can never be happy about it ever.”
And they are wrong.
Happiness is not only for the present moment, it also includes being satisfied with the past as well as being hopeful for the future.
A sense of well-being comes from feeling content with past experiences and having a sense of purpose for the future.
Myth 7. Happiness is only for the young.
Truth: Happiness is not just for the young among us.
Happiness can be experienced at any age and stage of life.
While age may bring different challenges and experiences, happiness is a state that can be cultivated and nurtured regardless of age.
In fact, studies have found that our happiness increases with age.
Research has shown that people’s overall life satisfaction tends to increase as they age, up to a certain point.
A study by the University of Warwick suggests that people in their mid-50s tend to be the happiest, with life satisfaction then declining in old age.
This is often referred to as the “U-shaped curve of happiness” as satisfaction tends to be lower in youth and old age and highest in middle age.
Myth 8. Happiness is only for the religious or spiritual.
Truth: Happiness is not only for the religious or spiritual.
Happiness can be found through various means such as mindfulness, self-care, and personal growth.
The practice of these can bring a sense of inner peace and well-being regardless of one’s religious or spiritual beliefs.
An atheist can be as happy as anyone who follows a religion or faith.
Myth 9. Happiness is only for people with positive feelings.
Truth: Happiness is not just for those who are “happier” types.
Happiness is not only for those who have lots of positive feelings or are optimistic and hopeful.
It can be found through the practice of gratitude, forgiveness, and having a sense of purpose.
People suffering from depression have low hopes for the future and often overthink, but they too can practice happiness activities like The Three Good Things.
These practices can help individuals to shift their perspective and find happiness even in difficult circumstances.
Myth 10. Happiness is the ultimate goal.
Truth: Happiness is not the ultimate goal.
Happiness is an important aspect of a fulfilling life, but it is not the ultimate goal.
Meaning, purpose, and connection with others are also important elements that contribute to a fulfilling life.
While happiness is desirable, it should not be the only focus and should be balanced with other aspects of well-being.
Happiness is not a single thing or of a single type.
It is a complex emotion and can be influenced by various factors like our health, social support, and financial security, which may change as we age.
Remember, happiness doesn’t have to be an exuberant expression. A person may be happy but not show it through external expressions.
You may express your happiness through smiles and laughter, while also through a sense of calm or contentment.
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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy — a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher, who writes on mental well-being, happiness, positive psychology, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).
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