THE THREE MYTHS OF HAPPINESS

joy
=============================

(Today's tip is adapted from my new book, 'Feel Happy Now!',
coming from Hay House in May 2007...)

"Myths which are believed in tend to become true."

-George Orwell

There are over 60,000 books in print on the subject of happiness
at the moment, which is particularly interesting when you
consider the fact that 'happiness' doesn't even exist.

Like 'success', 'love', and 'confidence' (not to mention
'stress', 'anxiety' and 'depression'), the word 'happiness' is
what linguists call a nominalisation - a process or activity
that is described as if it were a tangible thing. While the
metaphor of happiness as a 'thing' does make it easier to talk
about, it also carries with it some interesting baggage.

If happiness were a thing:

*It could be lost or found outside of oneself

*You could give it to or get it from someone else

*You could almost certainly buy it (and it would be cheaper and
quicker to get on the internet)

*You could share it with others

And this, of course, fits with the way that many of us think and
talk about happiness. But if our goal is to actually feel
happy not only now but more and more of the time, it is more
useful to think about 'happiness' in terms of a process:

*Happiness is the process of creating and experiencing good
feelings in your body and mind, moment by moment by moment.*

When you recognize happiness as a process, not a thing, you
realize:


*You can do it or not do it

*You can get better at it

*You can ultimately master it

Over five hundred years ago, Francis Bacon wrote about what he
called 'the idols of the Western world' - those ideas which were
so much a part of our culture that we never thought to question
them, instead worshipping them with the kind of blind faith
normally reserved for far more religious than scientific
pursuits.

I prefer to think of these ideas as myths - stories we tell
ourselves about how the world works that are blindly passed on
from generation to generation, never questioned until we decide
to give weight to the primacy of our own experience over the
ideas before our minds...

Myth number one -
"I'll be happy when..."

I talked at great length in my first book about this idea, which
I consider to be the greatest myth in Western Civilization.
Just how disconnected happiness actually is from having what you
want is easy to see when you look at the four ways of being in
the world:

1. You can be happy and doing and having the things you want in
your life

2. You can be unhappy and doing and having the things you want
in your life

3. You can be happy and not doing and having the things you want
in your life

4. You can be unhappy and not doing and having the things you
want in your life

The key to seeing through this myth successfully is to recognize
this simple fact:

*Your happiness does not depend on getting or having what you
want*

When we stop using unhappiness (fear, doubt, sadness, anger,
etc.) as our primary motivation to act, we can move happily
forward in the direction of our dreams with ease and grace.


Myth number two -
It's not possible to be happy in certain situations

The idea that our happiness and well-being in life are the
product of our circumstances seems at first glance to be
self-evident. After all, isn't everybody sad at a funeral? And
when's the last time you saw a group of happy football fans
celebrating after their home team lost the big game?

But in the same way as the regular presence of fire engines at
the scene of a fire doesn't mean that fire engines actually
cause the fire, the regular presence of unhappiness in certain
situations doesn't mean it's actually caused by the situation.

It's not so much that certain things 'make' you happy - it's
that there are certain situations where you feel it is
appropriate to feel happy, and certain others where you don't.

The truth behind this myth is a subtle one:

*While it may or may not be possible to be happy all the time,
it is certainly possible to be happy at any time.*

In fact, each one of those things you think of as 'making' you
unhappy are simply things which you have not yet given yourself
permission to feel happy in relation to and/or areas of your
life in which you have not decided to make feeling happy a
genuine priority. Prioritizing happiness is always a choice.


Myth number three -
Unhappiness is good for us

It is undeniable that unhappiness is a part of life, and many
philosophers and scientists point to the evolutionary role of
fear and anger in the survival of the species. But when we
start to justify our bad feelings as good for us (or worse
still, our good feelings as bad for us), we keep ourselves stuck
in a self-fulfilling rut.

Ironically, the state of discomfort most of us put ourselves
into to better deal with our problems is the worst possible
state in which to deal with them. Like pouring fuel on a fire,
meeting difficulties with anger, fear and sadness tends to make
things more, well, difficult.

Here's what's waiting for us on the other side of the myth:

*Whatever you can do with unhappiness you can do better when
you're happy.*

As long as we justify unhappiness as being important, we'll have
more of it. As soon as we recognize that its evolutionary
functions (keeping us alive when in the face of danger and
keeping us humping one another) are almost entirely achievable
with positive emotion, we can change the very basis for our
lives.

--------------------
Today's experiment:
--------------------

1. Think about something in your life you are unhappy
(angry/fearful/sad/etc.) about.

2. Ask yourself "Why am I unhappy about that?" Your answer will
reveal a belief - part of your personal mythology of
happiness.

3. In reviewing whatever beliefs your answer revealed, you may
find any or all of the following questions useful:

*Do I believe that?
*Why do I believe that?
*What am I concerned might happen if I didn't believe that?
*What am I concerned it might mean about me if I didn't believe
that?

4. If you knew that you didn't need to feel unhappy about
whatever it is in order to demonstrate your caring or motivate
yourself to action, what would you do differently in that
situation?

5. Take at least one of the 'happy actions' you come up with in
question 4!

Have fun, learn heaps, and happy exploring!

With love,
Michael

PS - Want to chat with best-selling author Jennifer Louden?
She'll be our first guest in the all new Solutions Café book
club - go to
http://www.geniuscatalyst.com/public/cafepublic.php to join
now...

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