For many people, maintaining an optimal level of happiness seems elusive. When they are happy, they tend to ignore why and when their happiness drops, they instinctively start looking for ways to jack it back up. This is the point at which one or more of the myths of happiness take over.
The myths generally fall under the category of "if - then"; if I get something, then my happiness will improve.
So...what are some of the myths?
1. Once I obtain A, B, or C, then I can be happy.
People often live in the future as though tomorrow holds something special that today does not. Moreover, people make decisions about being happy if only conditions A, B, or C are present in their lives. There is no justification for not permitting yourself to be happy now. There is nothing wrong with setting goals - like A, B, or C - but not allowing yourself to happily experience the process of achieving them is a lost opportunity.
2. There is little to be happy about: I don't own my home, I have debt, I need to lose weight, I just got a divorce.
You get the picture. All of these things - and more - may be true. However, it's not what happens to us so much but it's how we thing about what happens that matters. Shakespeare famously wrote "there is no good or bad, but thinking makes it so". Research has shown that our personal circumstances account for no more than 10% of our overall sense of happiness. The reason it is not higher is that we continually adapt as our lives unfold. Understanding this reality is the first step to successfully navigating the rough waters life creates.
3. If I get therapy, read the right book, take a workshop, or watch enough TED talks I can become happy.
All of these things can make a positive impact on a person's happiness but they come with the potential trap of unmet expectations. Setting an expectation about what will happen is trying to accurately predict the future - a risky exercise indeed! By all means be proactive, but wait until the end to see how it turned out. This reduces the potential for disappointment and the feeling that, once again happiness has eluded you.
A large body of credible research has shown that taking personal charge of nurturing our happiness is the most effective way to make a positive difference. Check out this short video to see why.
If growing your happiness appeals to you but you are frustrated with where to start, your coach may be just the answer!