Written by : Paula Felps

The Truth Behind 3 Happiness Myths

Our long-held assumptions about what will make us happy may be dead wrong.

Man and woman getting married

Our long-held assumptions about happiness may be more fantasty than reality.

  • Myth: Achieving goals leads to all-but-inevitable happiness.
  • Truth: Happiness shouldn’t hang on achievement—happiness should encourage achievement.

“If happiness and positivity are created first, then the chances of achieving desirable goals are significantly enhanced,” says Tim Sharp, Ph.D., of The Happiness Institute in Australia. This allows us to experience the “wonders of positive emotions before, during and after success, rather than just after,” he says.

  • Myth: Realized dreams equate to happiness.
  • Truth: Dreams serve as the motivation to continue pursuing happiness.

“You can use that experience [of pursuing your dreams] as the building block for a new future,” says Laura King, Ph.D., professor of psychological sciences at the University of Missouri Columbia and editor of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

“You acknowledge that that dream may not come true, but start thinking, ‘What skills did I gain from that experience that I can use in some other way?’ The great challenge is to move that joy to a new context….If you will invest in a new future with that same optimism, everything that happens inside that new life is much richer.

It puts a different context on your current experiences. And that life that you thought of as your second choice often turns out to be amazing.”

  • Myth: I'll be happy if I marry the right person.
  • Truth: True happiness isn’t determined by society; true happiness is personal.

“Marrying the perfect person is not the answer to true happiness,” says Stacy Kaiser, a Live Happy columnist, best-selling author, psychotherapist and relationship expert.

“Rather, the cliché that happiness comes from within is actually true: Happiness comes from feeling emotionally, psychologically and spiritually satisfied and supported in the life you’re living. It comes from feeling fulfilled, productive, cared for, safe and secure, no matter if you’re single or you’re married.”

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