Like an elusive butterfly, happiness often escapes our grasp. But could that be because we don’t actually know what it is? Have you ever thought about what some happiness myths are?
You can’t deny it. You seek it as much as the next person. Like hungry animals, we roam the Earth in search of it. For hours, for days, for decades, we dream of it. And we do so because we believe that if we fail to find it, our lives will never truly be worth living.
The philosophers of old claimed that we miss out on happiness because we search for it. But Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani, happiness advocate and co-founder of Mindvalley, has another opinion.
What if the reason we miss out and feel sad wasn’t that we were looking for it but because most of us don’t actually know what happiness is (or what it isn’t)?
Grab a notepad and explore what happiness is not, so you can come up with your own definition, dismantling the myths once and for all.
1. Happiness Is NOT an Emotion
If you bought into the idea that it is an emotion, you’re in for a very rough ride. That’s one of the most reiterated happiness myths out there.
By their nature, emotions are ever-changing. Like waves of the ocean or cloud formations in the sky, emotions are transient phenomena.
Therefore, it goes without saying that you can’t live a happy life if you equate being happy to the emotion of joy or elation; your happiness will inevitably fluctuate depending on your circumstances.
Rather, Kristina recommends seeing it as a state of mind or a way of living.
2. Happiness Is NOT Perfection
As a human living in the 21st century, you may have been taught that life will not always give you what you want. The path can get rocky. And if you’ve been waiting for everything to be perfect on that path before you allow yourself to be happy, you may just be setting yourself up for failure.
But how to find happiness, then?
According to a world-renowned philosopher-turned-business guru (who also happens to be a Mindvalley trainer), Srikumar Rao, you’re happy not because everything is perfect, everything is perfect because you are happy.
And sometimes, you might be surprised how you’ll find joy through the darkest of times.
True happiness is still attainable even if you’ve been sent on a detour from the path. So ask yourself: Can you still enjoy the scenery while on that inevitable detour?
3. Happiness Is NOT the Absence of Hardship
So happiness does not equate to our subjective ideas about external perfection. Taking that idea a step further, Kristina points out that neither is it the absence of hardship.
It’s an idea that’s often resisted to the bitter end.
For example, when you were a child, odds are, your parents attempted to shelter you from the hardships of the world. If you’re a parent, maybe you make an effort to dodge the subject of death or pain around your little ones, and at the very least, you attempt to make their lives as pleasant as possible.
But this behavior, although born from good intentions, will paradoxically bring us more unhappiness in the long run.
Why? Because a key personal trait we need to be happy is resilience. And when you create an artificial environment without pain or struggle, you’ll go through life without the necessary skills to survive and thrive when something really challenging comes along.
Facing the ugliest human experiences with openness, understanding, and acceptance will not be detrimental. It’ll be your training ground for a contented state of being, no matter what life throws at you.
4. Happiness Is NOT a Symptom of Doing the Right Thing
Doing the right thing is not going to make you happy. If that were true, we wouldn’t have the world’s most successful people burnt out, wondering how the hell they ended up where they are…unhappy.— Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani, co-founder of Mindvalley and trainer of Live By Your Own Rules Quest
Kristina has first-hand experience with doing all the right things that land you in the wrong place. She was a good girl who followed all the rules, getting straight A’s at school and university, marrying Mr. Right, having a couple of angelic children, and founding her dream business.
But she ended up being pretty miserable.
Kristina learned very quickly that her level of success doesn’t correlate with her level of happiness. In fact, research shows that the correlation actually goes in the other direction; it’s happiness that’ll dictate your level of success.
So happiness isn’t a pleasant symptom of success or doing the right thing. It’s a prerequisite.
5. Happiness Is NOT a Given
So, happiness is, in fact, NOT an emotion, nor does it come along when the conditions are perfect. And it’s also safe to say that it’s not a given. In other words, this state of being is never guaranteed, nor is anyone more or less worthy of it.
So it’s advisable to let go of these happiness myths. Don’t be tricked into thinking that you’re meant to be naturally happy and that if you aren’t, you deem yourself as lesser-than.
Just like an incredible relationship needs to be nurtured and a dream business needs to be built from the ground up, happiness is something that requires effort and commitment.
No matter what brings you into a happy state of being, whether it’s positive affirmations, spending time with loved ones, meditating, practicing self-care, traveling the world, or expressing gratitude for what you already have, you’re in the driver’s seat to practice and facilitate it.
To Be or Not To Be… Happy
Can you wake up one day instantly happy and feeling good? Probably. But does it work for everyone? Probably not.
What can work, though, is deciding every day to do your best to connect to that state of being.
Once you’ve broken down your limiting beliefs regarding happiness myths and what happiness is not, you can start building your path to a lifetime of joy and serenity. And one great place to start is by joining Mindvalley’s Live By Your Own Rules Quest, guided by Kristina.
What’s truly transformational about it is the community you will find to support you on your way. As the saying goes, happiness is the journey, not the destination, but now you don’t have to do it all alone.