I recently read the “The Myths of Happiness” by Sonja Lyubomirsky and found it very interesting, full of thought-provoking commentary on our obsession with finding happiness.
Lyubomirsky discusses the fact that often when we are seeking personal growth, it is because we believe that the goal we are trying to achieve will bring us wealth, excitement, comfort, fame, and subsequently happiness. Sometimes when we are attempting to change self-defeating behaviors or limiting beliefs about ourselves, we are ultimately desiring greater happiness. We believe the perfect mate, family/house/picket fence, the right job, the fulfillment of all our dreams and copious cash will bring happiness.The subtitle, “What Should Make You Happy, but Doesn’t. What Shouldn’t Make You Happy, but Does” reveals some of these commonly held and often unquestioned beliefs about being happy. Lyubomirsky’ s book is filled with an amazing amount of research exploding many of these myths. The author explains the concept of “hedonic adaptation, the tendency of human beings to become used to almost everything positive that happens to in our lives.” The research shows that people tend to take for granted positive experiences in their life. The glow of love, the new car, the fabulous home, the corner office, more money are all initially satisfying but fade quickly on our happiness radar without conscious effort on our part to be appreciative, express gratitude, and practice mindfulness. In fact, the perfect job turns out to be less important than our ability to embrace the “journey” of professional growth, which in turn satisfies our basic drives to grow, feel competent and self-sufficient, connect with others and contribute to the world in a meaningful way. Having lots of money does not produce as much happiness as feeling connected, valued, or having a sense of mastery over one’s life. The research indicates that spending money on experiences rather than things buys us greater happiness and that using our resources, even if limited, wisely can boast our sense of control, sharpen our abilities and talents bringing a greater feeling of satisfaction. So, as we SEEK greater happiness, Lyubomirsky reminds us that “we must stop waiting for happiness and we must stop being terrified of the potential for unhappiness.” We all need to develop strategies to cope with life’s challenges, pursue new and satisfying goals, all the while embracing life with profound gratitude! Have you read Lyubomirsky’s book? What things in your life have helped you find true happiness? Share your thoughts in the comments!