Happiness: hard facts, half truths and absolute nonsense

Happiness: hard facts, half truths and absolute nonsense

As regular readers would well be aware, I spend much of my time talking about happiness and as part of this, I spend much of my time busting common myths and misconceptions about happiness. If we don’t properly understand what happiness is (as well as what it isn’t) then we’re always going struggle to achieve it.

Now I’ve heard some pretty bizarre and outlandish claims made about happiness in my time and so as a result, I’ve developed a new presentation titled “Hard facts, half-truths and absolute nonsense”. Today I’m pleased to bring you a brief summary of some of the more common half-truths and some of the absurd claims made about happiness with a view to helping you avoid falling into these traps and accordingly, being distracted from what will really help you create a happy life.

Myth 1: Happiness comes from having more money and more things

The truth: more money will lead to more happiness but only to a point. There’s no doubt that for someone living below the poverty line, struggling to eat or secure shelter, then money will definitely help. But once we get beyond a certain point, which for the sake of simplicity we’ll consider an average wage, then the return we get from increasing our wealth diminishes rapidly. That is, if happiness is our goal we’ll receive a much better return on our investment from pursuing other goals such as developing and fostering our relationships – which makes happiness the most valuable asset!

Myth 2: Happiness involves seeking pleasure and avoiding pain

The truth: as with the first point this is partially true, but only partially. Most people like pleasure and most don’t like pain; but happiness is much more than hedonism. In fact, the research suggests that although important, pleasure may be less important for our happiness than meaning and purpose.

Myth 3: Happiness is synonymous with being frivolous and irresponsible

The truth: Happy people are not silly but rather, tend to be very responsible and productive employees and citizens. In short, happy people typically outperform unhappy people on every measure so rather than being frivolous, happy people are healthier, more productive, better parents and better friends.

Myth 4: Life’s too serious for happiness

The truth: Life’s so serious we can’t afford not to be happy. I’m not naive enough to think life’s all wonderful but the fact that there are problems in the world means it’s even more important for as many of us as possible to be happy; because, when we experience positive emotions we’re more resilient and we’re more able to generate effective solutions to the difficulties we face.

Myth 5: There’s a secret to happiness out there somewhere

The truth: there is no secret. I’m sorry to disappoint some of you but the reality is quite simpleê¢__‘Ô_there is no one secret to happiness. And even if there were one thing that was very important for me it wouldn’t be the same for all of you because we’re all different. Happiness means different things to different people and accordingly, the creation of happiness will require different approaches for different people. But at the risk of contradicting my earlier statement, if here was a secret to happiness it would probably be discipline – having the discipline to determine and clarify your own happiness plan, and then stick to it!

So if you want to create a happier life beware of these and other myths. I urge you to believe happiness is possible but I also urge you to see the creation of happiness as something that requires work and time.