The Common Myths of Happiness

I am a legitimately happy person. I love my life, and I appreciate every single blessing I’ve been given. But, honestly, I have my days — or weeks. And you know what? That doesn’t make me any less of a happy person.

You see, there are a lot of myths about happiness. They range in their level of mythitude — some are more myth-y than others. Regardless, they are all myths.

  1. Happy people are happy all of the time. Super myth. Happy people are generally genuinely happy. It is not possible to be happy 100 percent of the time. We’re human. We have emotions. Happy people are happier than most people most of the time — but they should be allowed to feel (and exhibit) the full range of human emotions without judgment or questions.
  2. Someone else can make you happy. Nonsense. The only person who has the ability to make you happy is yourself. True, other people can magnify — and reflect — your happiness. But in order to be happy, it’s up to you. And your attitude? Yeah. That’s key.
  3. Happiness is genetic — either you have it or you don’t. I cry foul. Happiness is not something we’re born with. But we do have the ability to look at our lives, appreciate what we have and be happy that we have it. We have the ability to see that just because bad things happen in our lives doesn’t make every day any less of a gift. And we have the chance to wake up every day and choose happiness.
  4. Things — and money — can make you happy. See #2.
  5. Happy people “have it better” so it’s easy for them to be happy. Baloney. Happy people don’t have it any better than anyone else. In fact, some of the happiest people I know have had crap handed to them — repeatedly. But instead of giving into the temptation to use it as an excuse to feel miserable — and be miserable — they dress themselves with a smile in the morning and make the world a better place by spreading joy and love. And, remember, someone always has it worse than you.
  6. Happiness is a lie. Happiness is real. I know. I have it — most of the time (see #1). Like I said, I have my days. Days when the acceptance of a sad diagnosis creeps in and sends me into a funk; days when work stresses me out; days when nothing’s going my way; days when — hell — I just need to cry or beat on the punching bag. Sometimes I have to fake it ’til I make it. But, in the end, the smile’s always worth it. Besides, experiencing these moods helps me to appreciate the happiness that I do have in my life. And it makes me smile brighter and bigger.

It doesn’t matter how long we may have been stuck in a sense of our limitations. If we go into a darkened room and turn on the light, it doesn’t matter if the room has been dark for a day, a week or ten thousand years — we turn on the light and it is illuminated. Once we control our capacity for love and happiness, the light has been turned on. ~Sharon Salzberg

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