Make sure you’re looking for happiness in the right places by avoiding these feel-good fallacies
Modern life can be tough and sometimes it feels as if true happiness is always out of reach. That makes it tempting to try to force happiness to happen by seeking shortcuts. These may make us feel better temporarily, but they’re very unlikely to address the underlying issues that prevent us from living the genuinely happier life we want.
Here are the three most common myths people think can create happiness, why they don’t work, and what you can do to overcome them.
Myth 1: “I’ll be happy when I have the perfect body”
Believing you’ll only be happy when you have the “perfect body” is one of the most damaging types of internal pressure, and thinking like this can make you really unhappy. Mainly because the perfect body doesn’t exist.
That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to make a big difference to how you look naked – you can! – but it’s very hard to be objective about our own bodies, no matter how much progress we’ve made. It’s really important to shift that mindset into feeling happy by taking control of your health and fitness today through exercise, eating well and your journal. That’s how you’ll find immediate and lasting happiness, rather than obsessing over an outcome that’s impossible to achieve.
Myth 2: “I’ll be happy when I’m successful”
Believing you’ll only be happy when you are perceived as successful or important by other people can damage your hopes of happiness as much as chasing the perfect body.
First, linking your sense of self-worth to the opinions of others is a waste of time. Do you “grade” family, friends or colleagues based on their job, or how much money or success they have? No, so it’s unlikely anyone whose opinion you respect is doing the same to you!
Second, if someone does appear to judge you they’re not somebody whose opinion you should care about. Nobody other than you can truly understand or appreciate everything you’ve done and everything you are, so any negative opinion you receive is never an accurate reflection of reality.
Myth 3: “I can spend my way to happiness”
Treating yourself to a new item of clothing or gadget might make you feel a bit better, but this enjoyment won’t last long. Indeed a “I will spend myself happy” attitude may result in greater unhappiness over time.
Our levels of happiness are fairly stable and while a new car or dress or shoes might make you feel a little happier for a while, you soon grow accustomed to the new item and start looking for more products or status symbols to give yourself another boost. Before long you end up on a “treat treadmill”, constantly chasing the next luxury item that will make you happy.
A better strategy is to work on some of the positive habit changes we suggest here. Putting them into practice will lead to higher happiness levels – day in, day out!