“What would make you happier?” Do you know that most people guess the wrong answer to this question! Recent studies have found that what most people think would make them happier actually doesn’t. There are three main myths about happiness.
Happiness Myth #1: I will be happier if I have more money.
When asked what would make you happier, most Americans say they will be happier if they had double their current income – this “double the income” answer was the same whether the person being asked was making $25,000, $250,000 or $2,500,000. The truth is that unless you do not have enough money to meet your basic needs and have a moderate level of comfort (in the U.S. that comfort level averages $75,000) , more money will not really make you happier. Researchers at Princeton University found that in America, once the family income has reached $75,000, more money had no positive effect on people’s happiness and moods.
Happiness Myth #2: I will be happier when I have more status (i.e., better job/higher degree of education/married)
Many people think they will be happier when they have more status. Actually, whenever someone says, I will be happy when (fill in the blank), they are generally mistaken. It is true that getting a promotion, getting married, etc. are happy occurrences and they will make you happy for a while. What happens though is soon after this change, people return to their baseline level of happiness. Conversely tragic circumstances are not as bad as people think. Both lottery winners and people who become paralyzed return to their baseline level of happiness within a year. Circumstances do not make people truly happy or unhappy. It’s how we react to circumstances that determine our general level of happiness.
Happiness Myth #3: I will be happier if I can stay comfortable
Many people say “I just want to be comfortable. If I can stay comfortable I will be happier.” Comfort is not the way to happiness. Being comfortable is a fine place to take a rest from time to time, but people are happier when they routinely challenge themselves and get outside of their comfort zones. If you challenge yourself at a level commensurate with your skills, then you will achieve a flow state which leads to more happiness. As your skills improve, your challenges should become more difficult. Too little challenge (i.e., staying in a comfort zone) leads to boredom, apathy, and eventually depression.
If you would like to really engage with your happiness and find out how to create internal and external environments that lead to more happiness and flow, join me in the Life Alchemy Workshop starting next Tuesday, September 9! We are going to spend 9 weeks implementing tools from the Science of Happiness and Feng Shui. Learn what you need to make 2015 your happiest year yet.
Ultimate Blog Challenge Day 18/Life Alchemy Project Day 18