3 Beliefs About Happiness That Make You Less Happy

3 Beliefs About Happiness That Make You Less Happy

I talk and write a lot about what you can DO to enjoy more happiness.

But what you BELIEVE about your happiness is also important.

Certain beliefs have been found to make happiness less likely, to undermine your happiness. But the good news is you can, if you’re aware, change these beliefs and develop new, more helpful ones, that will boost your psychological wellbeing.

Check out this Psychology Today article by Susan Krauss Whitbourne …


  • The conviction that you “should” be happy can produce the opposite effect when it takes on irrational qualities.
  • New research on irrational happiness beliefs shows how personality and coping combine to potentially make things worse.
  • By taking situations as they come, even if they’re not ideal, you’ll appreciate the good times even more.

Although positive psychology’s focus on happiness and well-being was a welcome change from so-called “negative” psychology’s emphasis on symptoms and disorders, this philosophical shift may have come at a cost. If happiness becomes the goal in and of itself, and you fail to reach that goal, there must be something wrong with you. It’s not clear how the happiness revolution reached this point, but there must be a reason that people adopted so wholeheartedly the mantra of “I should be happy, no matter what.” Indeed, nations now measure their success in serving their citizens based on overall happiness surveys, adding further weight to the happiness-as-goal mentality.

According to a recent study by Ağri İbrahim Çeçen University’s Murat Yildirim and the University of Leicester’s John Maltby (2022), happiness has its functional and dysfunctional aspects. On the positive side, happiness can promote more adaptive functioning by allowing people to see the upsides of situations. The dysfunctional aspect of happiness, however, “has detrimental effects on well-being and mental health.” Most research on happiness focuses on its functional aspects but, according to Yildirim and Maltby, this fails to address the full picture. When the idea of happiness goes awry in an individual, it may be necessary to provide “intervention and prevention services to foster positive functioning.”

The Irrational Happiness Belief Highway

Happiness becomes dysfunctional, the international researchers maintain, when people adopt the “irrational” belief that, above all, they need to be happy. Using terms from the well-known rational emotive theory of Albert Ellis, Yildirim and Maltby further define irrational happiness beliefs as taking the form that you “should,” “ought to,” or “must” be happy. When people adopt these beliefs, they start to go down a route of examining everything that happens to them in these absolutist terms.

Imagine yourself at an event that you eagerly anticipated as one that would cinch your happiness. Perhaps you and a friend planned to go to a concert by your favorite performer. For months, you imagined how elated you would be. However, this imagining soon turned to the irrational belief that because you wanted to enjoy the show so badly you therefore “must” enjoy every single solitary moment of the evening. Once you got there, though, little things started to go wrong: Your feet hurt, you needed to use the restroom (but couldn’t), and the people around you were a little obnoxious. “No!” you cry internally, “I was supposed to be happy tonight!”

As you can see, traveling down that highway from eager anticipation to holding yourself to unrealistic standards prevents you from extracting whatever joy you could have from a less-than-perfect (but potentially still enjoyable) evening. Citing a host of previous studies, Yildirim and Maltby propose that if these irrational beliefs can be turned around, individuals will be better able to cope with situations that, like the concert, fail to live up to an unrealistically high standard of perfection. To facilitate this constructive notion of happiness beliefs, the authors developed a simple 3-item scale that could be examined in relation to measurable adaptive outcomes…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE