When we ponder the meaning of life, or the purpose of our own life, it often boils down to how we measure up in the happiness department.
Books have been written, movies have been made, and entire industries have been constructed in order to help people achieve the goal of happiness. Even with these efforts, though, it still remains rather elusive for many people.
The following 5 beliefs may explain why you have trouble maintaining happiness.
1. Money determines my happiness
Does your happiness fluctuate with your bank account balance, 401k, or the stock market? For many, how much money we have directly correlates with our ability to be happy. But often that amount is relative and arbitrary. Ask someone who has $1 thousand and they will tell you if they had $2 thousand they would feel happy. Ask someone who has $250 thousand and they may tell you the number is $500 thousand. Some millionaires I know, feel quite vulnerable if their net worth dips below $50 million! When you link money to happiness, you will find that your need for more becomes insatiable.
2. The success or failure of others influences my happiness
To the primitive part of our brain, other people pose a threat to us; in essence, they represent potential competitors. If one of those competitors out does us—in essence one-ups us, it can impact our happiness. And, if that person or someone else whom we view as more powerful than us slips and falls, there may be a slight feeling of satisfaction—a twinge of happiness. Most tabloid magazines are particularly good at highlighting the rise and fall of those who are wealthier, prettier, or smarter than us. And for many this permits a transient sense of happiness. And the reverse can be true.
3. I will be happy only if someone else is happy
This is the trap many parents fall into. As parents don’t we wish just that for our children? “All I want for my children is for them to be happy,” and if they are not, it often impacts the ability for a parent to be happy. Others may require a boyfriend or wife to be content. Although it may seem as though this type of happiness is a good thing or even moral, truth be told co-dependent happiness is fragile and often leads to self-sacrifice, which in my experience can lead to self-sabotage.
4. Certain conditions determine my happiness
Often we have preconditions for happiness. When certain event benchmarks are met, we are certain happiness will ensue. Whether it is our team winning, or achieving a particular rank in a club, or moving into our dream house, or landing our dream job, or finding our soul mate. Happiness is rarely cause and effect and when viewed that way, it is usually transient, as when one requirement is met it usually paves the way for another requirement, and so on.
5. Things make me happy
This is not a call for you to judge yourself as superficial or to question the happiness you may feel when receiving a gift. However, when happiness greatly depends on the number or size of material possessions it is a precarious one. Just as when our happiness relies on particular events, at some point we will need more and more things to make us happy, as we get tired with the ones we have.
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