Two Major Misconceptions About Happiness

A few days ago I had a wonderful experience giving an inspirational talk on Purpose & Happiness to employees of in Berlin which inspired me to write a few words about Happiness.

First:We human beings, in the age of fast living, chasing dreams, purposes and happiness are often tricked by the common belief that happiness comes from outside of us, from things we acquire and goals we achieve, instead of connecting with ourselves and finding that happiness is inside of us. 

Don’t get me wrong. I also sometimes get tricked by thinking that happiness comes from outside of me, however, present day it’s much less than in the past. But it still gets to me for a few reasons. We are constantly bombarded with messages from media and society telling us that we need to get a better job, buy a bigger house and have the latest TV. This list goes on and on full of things we need in order to feel happy and some of us decide to pursue the contrary, going into other extremes like living off the grid and selling or giving away everything in order to feel happy. In one way, this is practical because living with less possessions and things to worry about, one can reduce levels of stress when payment days come and also the fear of losing what we have. If you don’t have it in the first place you don’t fear losing it… Simple, isn’t it? This isn’t true for everyone, of course. Some people do not find this radical move helpful when it comes to finding happiness. 

We have learned from media and western ‘advanced’ society to value ourselves through things we acquire, money we earn, the degree we acquire in university and the position we have at work. In this western society, if we do not achieve what we believe is of high value or lose it, we ‘lose’ our personal value, but this simply is not true. We do not really lose our personal value, we just believe we have. This is how beliefs work. There is nothing wrong about having a big house, earning a lot of money and achieving goals but this does not ultimately bring happiness! 

Our values and our happiness lay in entirely different places and to start being happy,  satisfied and a clear mind, we need to start looking in the right places. Some people meditate, others look for help from coaches like me. It doesn’t matter how you do it, what matters is that everyone can find it. If a person who has lost their arms and legs can be happy, if I can be happy, why can't you be happy too?!

Second: We also believe that in order to feel happy we need to push away or detach ourselves from painful and uncomfortable feelings like sadness, fear, shame etc. in order to feel happy. However, what we do not know is that all these feelings go in one package, you cannot reduce the intensity of only one feeling and not the other one, we need to allow ourselves to feel and fully know that it is okay. We are OK.

People often fear to feel sad or low. We run away from discomfort because western ‘highly advanced’ society is telling us that it is not good and we are not performing well, or that we are sick, or it is just uncomfortable because we have so much to do we cannot allow ourselves to feel discomfort. This results in pushing away negative feelings, however what we don’t know is that all feelings are normal and we cannot push one away because then we are pushing the others away too. As a result, we end up feeling no sadness but also no happiness and satisfaction. We push away the fear and we also push away excitement from our lives. If we continue in this way soon we will become a society of zombies. 

We need to learn that every feeling has its purpose and it is all right to feel sad, angry, scared, happy, excited, etc. However, if any of these feelings is more intense or more frequent than normally try to understand it before deciding to push it away or find somebody who can help you to understand yourself and help you to deal with those feelings. 

Mira Culic - Transformational Life Coach, Counselor & Hypnotherapist