Sunday, 31 January 2010

Myth 2: “I should be happy”

Everyone wants happiness. In fact these days, if we’re not happy, we tend to think there’s something wrong with us. Thinking we should be happy is not just a myth but a trap. By pursuing happiness as an objective, we’re actually setting ourselves up to be unhappy.

Mythbuster
Imagine 1000s of years ago one of your ancestors on the savannah plains sees something in the distance. Is it a bear or a blueberry bush?


The optimist may have seen a blueberry bush and had a great time munching blueberries. But equally, the optimist was more likely to be attacked by a bear...and not pass on their genes.

Our ancestors were (by definition) survivors. They are the ones who anticipated the worst.

It’s part of the human condition to experience many different emotions. Most of these emotions ‘see the bear’. Our minds evolved to warn us of dangers and give us worst case scenarios.

So it’s perhaps no surprise that if we try to chase happiness too much all that happens is we feel anxious when we don’t find it. The irony is this makes us feel even worse. We become anxious about anxiety.

Paradoxically, it’s only by letting go of the struggle for happiness that we can ever begin to truly find it.

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