Let’s all go out and find some Happiness
Happiness: Positive thinking and other nonsense
How would it be if I told you that a lot of what you believe will make you happy in life, actually does the opposite?
Have a look at the following statements:
- Do what you love and the money will follow.
- The only things that hold you back are your beliefs
- Positive thinking is easy.
- Focus on the negative and that’s what you’ll get.
- Your self-talk creates your success.
- Your thoughts determine your outcomes
- Happiness is a choice (so is unhappiness)
- What goes round comes round
- We only use 10% of our brains. (Trust your intuition to know what to do for success)
- Success (wealth, happiness, love) isn’t a finite resource; everyone can have it.
If you focus on those statements every day, you will live a happy, fulfilled, rewarding life, right?
They’re all nonsense and harmful to your happiness.
The statements are myths and they set us up for feeling like failures.
The Happiness Myths
I will refer to them as the Happiness Myths from here.
The Happiness Myths have been popularised in books and seminars on ‘Positive Thinking’ and by movies such as ‘The Secret’.
I’m sad to say that I have done my share of perpetuating the Happiness Myths as well.
Goals at Harvard
A classic example of one of the Happiness Myths is one that has been quoted as Gospel-truth for 40 years by anybody with a pulse in the personal development world. The myth is that people who set goals and write them down are much more likely to be successful in life than those who don’t, and that there was an important study done at Harvard University in the late fifties that unequivocally proved the Goal Myth.
The problem is: the study never took place.
Scarcity v Abundance
Another Happiness Myth that I adhered to enthusiastically as well for some time, is that what gets in the way of our success, wealth and happiness is our belief that there isn’t enough to go round for everyone. It’s called ‘The Scarcity Mindset’ and the myth is that we have to learn to embrace ‘The Abundance Mindset’ instead, if we want to live happy lives.
It is a nice myth, but sadly, no amount of Abundance Mindset thinking is going to change the circumstances of a starving farming family in The Horn of Africa.
In our turbulent lives, it is tempting to believe the various Happiness Myths. It would be so comforting to believe that if we simply set a goal, and change our self-talk, we will allow happiness and success into our lives. Who wouldn’t want to believe such dreams?
But they are dreams, and I believe it’s time for us to wake up. Belief in the ‘Happiness Myths’ actually sets us up for feeling deeply unhappy.
Making sense of our lives
Being happy in life has a lot to do with how we make sense of our lives. People who are generally happy tend to explain bad outcomes in life as results of their actions (I have done something bad); as opposed to people who tend to explain the same outcomes as a personal failure (I am bad).
This is how it works: If you decide that you have done something wrong, (‘I have to admit that I didn’t handle that argument with my wife very well’) then you are generally able to manage your diappointment, because you can decide to do better next time (‘Next time I am simply going to remind myself to take a deep breath and count to ten before…’). But if you believe that you personally are bad at something, it means you will always struggle to get a better outcome (‘Here we go again, I am just so bad at relationships’).
If you subscribe to the Happiness Myths, you will want to explain life as a result of your thinking, your attitude and your self-talk; If you are not successful in your business, the little voice on your shoulder will say: ‘See you don’t think right’.
- If you are single, it’s because you are so negative.
- If you are not as wealthy as you would like to be, it’s because you don’t want it badly enough.
- If you didn’t win the running race, it’s because you don’t believe in yourself enough.
- If your children struggle with drugs it means you haven’t been a good enough parent.
In other words: When things don’t go the way you’d wish them to go, it is your failure as a person that is the cause of it. And that is the perfect breeding ground for unhappiness in life.
The Secret to Happiness
So if positive thinking in all its many guises doesn’t lead to happiness… what does?
The answer is this:
Being happy means “accepting what happens”… The search for happiness is a ‘Contradiction in terms’. There is no activity you can undertake that will lead to greater happiness. Happiness can only come from accepting what is.
Acceptance is the key.
I mentioned the ‘Scarcity Mindset’ and how we are told that embracing the ‘Abundance Mindset’ will turn our lives around. It won’t… what will turn your life around (and mine too) is to learn to accept ‘Sufficiency’.
When we learn to accept ‘Enough’ in all aspects of our lives; when we accept that we are good enough, clever enough, thin enough, beautiful enough, good enough parents, rich enough and we let go of all the striving to make us happier… That’s when happiness comes-a-calling.
So… What I’m going to do is sit under a tree this afternoon and accept that a bird might drop something on my head.
What are you ready to accept?
Oh and by the way… Please don’t accept everything I wrote
About Roland Hanekroot and the Small Business Masterminds Webinars
Roland Hanekroot is the founder of New Perspectives Business Coaching and the author of “The Ten Truths books for business owners”
To support small business owners take the first steps to building a business that sustains them for years, Roland runs a series of regular webinars called The Small Business Masterminds Foundation webinars. There are three different Foundation webinars, on Time Management, The Purpose of Business and How to have more Fun in Business.
The foundation webinars are totally free and you can find out more and register for the next one here: http://smallbusinessmasterminds.com.au