22 Mar Happiness: myths & misconceptions
With a subtitle of “What if Freud was wrong?” I hope you enjoy this article from this morning’s Happiness Institute eNewsletter…
The fact that many, if not all of you have probably heard of Sigmund Freud will not come as a great surprise to anyone. The fact that many, if not all of you have heard of Sigmund Freud is, however, critically important to the point of this article…
Freud was one of the most influential people of the twentieth century; and note, I intentionally write “most influential people” not just most influential psychologists or doctors! Freud’s writings changed the way society thought about and understood human behaviour and his writings still influence our thinking and language to this day (how many of us have never referred to a “Freudian slip”? )
Yet the reality is that Freud’s ideas…
- were not really his ideas – many others had, some time before Freud, written and spoken about the unconscious mind and about many of the other ideas frequently attributed to him
- were grossly exaggerated – a fact to which Freud himself admitted later in his career
- were based, at best, on shonky science or, at best, on outright fraud and lies!
Now I’m not actually writing this as an attack on Freud; I don’t, personally, hold much stock in his theories but that’s a topic for another article. The point I’m trying to make is that if our thinking and if our beliefs in this particular context are based on fundamentally faultly and faudulent facts then what other thoughts or beliefs are based on mistaken logic or unproven facts and, importantly, in what ways might this be impacting on our happiness and success?
Happiness is directly linked to certain beliefs but there are many myths and misconceptions about happiness and “living a good life” that impede people’s ability to enjoy positive emotions. Do you, for example, believe in any of the following? That happiness is determined or significantly influenced by…
- money and/or possesions
- genetics or family history
- where you work and how much you earn
- where you live
- your birth order or star sign
- your ability to fix all your weaknesses
If so, then you may well not be experiencing as much happiness as you could be! This story is not about Sigmund Freud at all; but it is about understanding your underlying beliefs about happiness and assessing whether or not they’re helping you achieve what you want to achieve in life.
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