I am a firm believer that it is important to begin each day with a smile. My mom used to say to me as a child, ‘Smile and the world smiles with you. Weep and you weep alone.’ Happiness is an emotion. And like I’ve explained before – emotions are triggered by our thoughts. We must think happy positive thoughts in order to feel happy, which in turn influences our actions, generating results.
I do believe however that there are many common misconceptions surrounding happiness.
#1: You can’t increase your total happiness.
Some people believe that it’s just how you are and you can’t change yourself, some people just are happier than others. I don’t believe that. Let me tell you why.
While yes, some of the above is partially true – 50% of sustainable happiness is genetically determined and therefore ‘fixed’, and another 10 comes from your environment and circumstances sometimes hard to change. But that leaves 40% (almost half of your total happiness) determined by what I like to call Intentional activities, aka, what we consciously choose to do and think. Therefore it’s important to note, that the actions that you take can make a big difference to that available 40% of happiness.
#2: You cannot be happy unless you also experience unhappiness. You need unhappiness to be able to appreciate the good things because you’ve then got a comparison to make.
I agree with the above to a certain extent, that if you have had a very unhappy life, then you will appreciate the good things more. But I also think that no matter where you are in your lift at the moment, you can get some more good things into your life without having to let in some of the bad things aswell. As long as you know what unhappiness is like, which we all to some extent do, then you should know enough to build more and more happiness into your lift.
#3: Money will make you happy.
Did you know that it has been proven that big lottery wins only have short-term effect on people because they cannot cope with the sudden lifestyle change. After a big win, people find themselves in a world that they aren’t right for. It is a lifestyle that they haven’t really earned, and therefore it often doesn’t end well.
For the rest of us, I personally believe that Money nor external influences bring more happiness because of the price you have to pay to earn the extra money outweighs the benefit that you get from it. Your happiness shouldn’t be depicted as a direct result to something that can be lost as easily as it is earned.
#4: If you chase happiness, then you can capture it.
OF course in a way, everyone should chase happiness and set out to be happy, but generally, people assume that to be happy you must be set up in the right conditions so that it can happen: seeing your friends more, learning new skills, having an other half, buying those car etc. These are all practical things that can be done which then allow happiness to happen. But what if you chase it too hard, and you frighten it away. You cannot force happiness, because that could lead to stress, but you can work on feeling those positive thoughts leading to happiness. You must just trust that what will be will be. And where you are today is leading you along the right path to a better more fruitful future. But you must live in the now.