When ‘Happy’ Causes Problems

Yes, I did name my business, ‘Inspire Happy Humans’.

Yes, my tagline is, ‘A whole-family approach to happiness’.

Yes, the last 4 years I’ve spent absorbing myself in the science of happiness.

Yes, I am studying Positive Psychology at university.

Yes, my absolute passion is ‘happiness’.

So, what’s the issue?

I use the words ‘happy’ and ‘happiness’ for one reason: To relate to people. What do we want for our children? Happiness. What do we want for ourselves? Happiness. What do we want for everyone we know and love? Happiness.

On a basic level, all we want in this lifetime is happiness – to feel more joy more often.

But, happiness is not the be-all and end-all. We tend to place far too much pressure on happiness. We expect it to be so much more than it really is. We put happiness on a pedestal.

At the end of the day, happiness is one thing: A feeling. A feeling we all want to experience more often, yes, but there’s so much more to a meaningful, fulfilling life than just happiness.

The big issue that I have certainly isn’t with the feeling of happiness, but instead the misconceptions of happiness, and the problems those misconceptions cause.

Common misconceptions:

  • The goal is to be happy 24/7

  • If you’re not happy now, you’re failing

  • Happiness is attained by wealth, material possessions, or circumstances

  • Happiness is a destination

  • Being happy will solve all problems

  • Happiness looks the same for everyone

The goal is to be happy 24/7

Happiness is not a state of being. As stated above, it is a feeling. And what’s important to know about feelings? They are not permanent. Just like sadness isn’t permanent. Just like suffering isn’t permanent. Just like anger, shame, grief, guilt, and jealousy aren’t permanent.

If happiness were permanent, it would lose its significance. If grief was permanent, then what’s the point of the human experience?

Feelings and emotions come and go, but the trick is to learn how to move through them with acceptance and understanding. When we stop to feel every emotion, we can flow through the negatives ones much faster. When we learn to savour and appreciate all the good in life, we can spend more time basking in our positive emotions. But, to know that all emotions are temporary, and understand that emotional ebbs and flows are healthy, that is what will help us live better lives.

The goal will never be 24/7 happiness. The goal is emotional acceptance; total awareness of our feelings and emotions in any given moment, and accepting them as they are. They are not right, they are not wrong, they just are.

Happiness is just one piece of the pie.

If you’re not happy, you’re failing

When you’re feeling good, you’re succeeding at life. When you’re feeling bad, you’re failing at life. Um, says who? Like I just said, happiness is just one piece of the pie (and it’s a big pie!). Let’s start with saying there is no such thing as failure – only learning opportunities. And success? Well, there are many aspects of life that add to your individual success, and your definition of success is entirely up to you.

For me personally, when I am learning, I am succeeding. When I am strengthening my relationships, I am succeeding. When I am doing my part in making the world a better place, I am succeeding. When I love who I am and what I do, I am succeeding. The best part - I am in control of the actions I take every day that allow me to say, “I am a success.”

And, guess what else? I can still have strong relationships with myself and others, learn on a daily basis, do what I love, and have shitty days! But shitty days and ‘failure’ don’t go hand-in-hand. A bad day doesn’t equal a bad life.

Decide on what success means to you, and realise that it’s not your changing emotions that are in control, it’s the small actions you take daily.

Happiness is attained by wealth, material possessions, or circumstances

‘I will be happy when…’

How many of us have said that to ourselves more than once? I will be happy when I’m earning more money. I will be happy when I move out. I will be happy when I find my true love. I will be happy when I’m in my dream career…

No. No, you won’t.

Happiness is within us right now, and if you don’t know how to find it now then you won’t know how to find it when you move out/ have more money/ find your love. By then, you’ll have attached happiness to another material item or circumstance that you don’t yet have, anyway.

Positive Psychology teaches us how to be happy, right now, with what we have. If you have never been taught how to find the happiness within, then you’ll have an extremely hard time holding onto any brief happiness material possessions will bring you.

Happiness comes partly from genetics (50%), and you can’t change that. But, happiness also depends on 10% circumstances (income, where you live, marital status, etc.) and a whopping 40% depends on your internal state of mind – the actions you choose to take in order to feel good more often. The latter two, you can change. If you want to feel happier more often, make that choice. Learn how to be. Take action to make it so.

Fleeting happiness is attained by wealth, material possessions, and circumstances, but lasting happiness (more happiness, more often) comes from the actions you take, and the choices you make. You can do it right now, with a little bit of knowledge and a willingness to try new things.

Click here for 8 ways to be happy now.

Happiness is a destination

'Chasing happiness'. I hear that term thrown around a lot. Some people use it as motivation to consistently push forward and find ongoing satisfaction in their personal progression and development (that’s great!). Others use it as a tool to stay unhappy. ‘I’m working on that whole happiness thing… I’ll get there.’ For some, unhappiness is simply what they know. It’s safe. Others hold on to unhappiness because they’re afraid that attaining happiness means they’ll no longer have anything to work towards. Will life lose its meaning?

Well, you’ll be happy to know that happiness is not a destination. Happiness is not something you have to chase down your whole life until you finally grab hold of it on your death bed. Happiness isn’t the end. Happiness is the here and the now, and instead of chasing it, you can simply choose it. Choose it today, tomorrow, and every day after if you wish.

Happiness is already within us, which means it cannot be earnt, and it therefore cannot be lost. Sometimes it just hides, and we need to uncover it again with the right mind frame, choices and actions.

Happiness isn’t meant to be chased; it’s meant to be uncovered.

Being happy will solve all problems

If you’re guilty of saying, ‘when I’m happy, all of my problems will go away,’ you’re probably also guilty of saying, ‘I’ll be happy once all of my problems go away.’

Well, there seems to be a whole lot of hoping and a whole lack of action around those statements. You’re putting too much pressure on happiness. A feeling cannot solve problems, and problems don’t usually solve themselves. YOU must solve your own problems. What’s more – why do you think that you can’t have problems and be happy at the same time? You can!

Put your problems aside for a moment and focus on uncovering the happiness you have already. Learn how to be happy now.

You’ll be pleased to know that recent studies have proven that people who have a positive outlook on life and find regular happiness are actually better problem solvers than those who don’t. (Read about this study here.)

So, there you go. Take your life into your own hands, learn how to find happiness whenever you choose to, and you may be able to better handle the problems that arise.

Happiness looks the same for everyone

Nope. Nopenopenope. YOU get to decide what happiness looks like to you. Don’t ever compare yourself to others, because comparison is a very slippery slope to unhappiness.

What does happiness mean to you? How do you create happiness for yourself? When are you happiest?

One thing that makes me happy is the constant bettering of myself. Although I’m so content with where I am every step of the way, when I know I’m taking small steps in becoming better on the daily, I feel great.

Other people feel like the need to always strive for something more is draining, and that’s so fine! They do what feels good to them, and that’s perfect, because people who feel good, bring more good to the world.

You. Do. You. No exceptions.

At the end of the day, happiness is one thing: A feeling.

It’s a feeling that most of us want to experience more often, and the great news is, if you want to experience happiness now, you can. If you’re cool exactly as you are, that’s great too.

You do you.

Personally, studying the science of happiness brings me exactly that – more happiness. I know that I can use different techniques to make my experience of life richer, more meaningful and fulfilling. When I’m feeling down, I can put some of my knowledge into action and climb out of the unhappiness. That’s if I want to, of course. Sometimes, throwing myself a pity-party isn’t the worst thing in the world. But, when I want to start feeling good again, it’s important to know that I can. And so can you!

I will always teach people how to feel more happiness more often, but I’ll debunk the misconceptions, and I’ll never leave out the rest of the story.

So, if happiness is only a part of the pie, what is it we’re striving for? Meaning? Fulfilment? Life satisfaction? You tell me.

Love & Happiness

P.S Do you know someone who could really benefit from reading this? To give them the motivation and push they need to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of the young people around them? Share this post with them. Even if they don't embrace it straight away, you've done your part. Thank you.

P.P.S Check out some more content to really take your life and your family members lives to the next level!

The next step:

Commit to being the change, and get started on my IHH 10 Days of Gratitude Challenge. Sign up now to receive your FREE copy. I made it especially for you :) (and not once did I let Adobe InDesign beat me! Ok, maybe once…)

From here, get involved in my whole-family approach and register your interest for the IHH Workshops ONLINE (for adults) and the in-person, Interactive IHH Workshops (for kids). Both programs launching early 2017! Note: Registering your interest does NOT lock you in to anything – it simply lets me know that people want to make a change, and gives me an idea of when and how I need to make it happen.

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