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4 Myths Happy People Just Don’t Buy

shutterstock_127785641There are a lot of things we are told about happiness. Maybe it’s because happiness something we all want — but like an elusive prize — it seems to evade us all. Or maybe we believe a lot of things about happiness that are just not true. And who would know? Well happy people would. And here are four myths about happiness that they just don’t buy:

You Can’t Be Who You Are.

In her powerful Ted Talk, Sherry Turkle, author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology And Less From Ourselves, points out that what inventions like Facebook offer is a way to connect without really connecting. Instead, we present the image that we want everyone else to see because we are afraid to present what’s really there. So we manufacture ourselves, careful to post only the flattering images, edit posts until they sound just right, and as Turkle states, have “just enough connection,” all the while thinking we are connected. But what we really are is disconnected — and not just from everyone else, but mostly from ourselves. And what happy people know is that the idea that you have to be something other than what you are — say only the right things, attempt to measure up to everyone else, seek accolades and praise — is a myth. And it’s a myth that keeps you unhappy. Because instead of getting to know yourself — figuring out who you really are — you are busy learning to pretend. Those who are truly happy have long since let go of the need to praised, liked, admired — whatever the case may be — and instead know that real happiness lies in letting go of the need to be something you are not.

Externals Matter.

Money, acclaim, prestige, fame, and even location, are all paradoxes. As the promise goes, the more you have, the better you will feel. So the data should show that wealthier people are proportionately happier than those who are not — maybe we could even construct a relationship such as xx increase in wealth leads to xx increase in happiness. But it just doesn’t work out that way. Wealth — beyond the amount needed to survive at a very basic level — is not correlated with happiness. This is the reason that Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling On Happiness tells us that three months after winning the lottery and three months after losing use of their limbs, paraplegics and lottery winners are equally happy. Because externals — the things outside of us — have nothing to do with happiness. What does matter, as happy people know, are the internals — your sense of personal strength, the sense of appreciation and gratitude you have for life, the relationships you develop, and the skills you build. For happy people, it’s not about amassing anything. Instead they focus on doing the things they love — spending time with loved ones, being in the moment (maybe even in flow), and yes, getting better.

Happiness Is A Destination.

If you get xxxxx, you will feel better. You can insert anything you want here. A new car, a better job, a vacation, a better relationship, kids. And the thought is that once you get that, you will be happy. But the truth is, we are on what Martin Seligman, author of Authentic Happiness, calls a “hedonic treadmill.” And just like a running treadmill, we are running — after happiness. Because what we do, as Seligman points out, is simply raise the bar. As soon as we get xxxx, we want yyyy. And the reason we are never satisfied? Because happiness is not a place we arrive at. As happy people know, happiness is a process. And what they have learned is that we are never done with happiness. Happiness is something we cultivate daily — we plant is, fertilize it, feed it, and ultimately, grow it — and it depends on our ability to adapt to whatever comes our way. And we must adapt, because there are no constants in life — which is a second reason that happiness is not a destination. Yet the process of learning is highly rooted in happiness. Because happy people know very well that we all want to grow — need to grow — and what every change in life, good or bad, offers is the opportunity to get better at the process of happiness.

Vulnerability is Weakness.

We are primed to avoid mistakes, quickly overcome our losses, pick up the pieces and get back in the game. And whatever you do, don’t show vulnerability. Don’t say, “I’m uncertain.” “I don’t know how this will work out.” “I don’t know what to do here.” And certainly, don’t ask for help. But play the game. Somehow, life just doesn’t work out that way. Because the truth is, life includes vulnerability — we have losses, we make mistakes, we are uncertain. Yet hiding vulnerability, Brene Brown, the author of Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, notes doesn’t equate to happiness, it equates to shame. And the more we try to hide shame, Brown continues, the more of it we have. And not surprisingly, the less happiness we also have. And happy people know this: That the courage to be vulnerable, to ask for help, to admit your mistakes, to ask for connection, is not where happiness ends. It’s where it begins.

Happiness may be elusive, but it’s also not impossible. It might just take a willingness to challenge what you’ve been told, to reconsider what you thought would lead you there, and to ultimately endeavor to find your own way.

Wealthy man image available from Shutterstock.

4 Myths Happy People Just Don’t Buy

Claire Dorotik-Nana, LMFT

Claire Dorotik-Nana LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in post-traumatic growth, leveraging adversity, and other epic human achievements. Claire has written multiple continuing education courses for Professional Development Resources, Zur Institute, and International Sport Science Association. Claire has also authored multiple books, including:
Leverage: The Science of Turning Setbacks into Springboards and On The Back Of A Horse: Harnessing The Healing Power Of The Human-Equine Bond. For more information about Leveraging Adversity or Claire, visit

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APA Reference
Dorotik-Nana, C. (2020). 4 Myths Happy People Just Don’t Buy. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 27 Apr 2020
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