3 Ways to Tell If You’ve Fallen for the Happiness Myth

3 Ways to Tell If You’ve Fallen for the Happiness Myth

via Psychology Today by Susan Krauss Whitbourne


  • Happiness can have dysfunctional as well as functional effects on well-being.
  • Irrational happiness beliefs include feeling that you should, must, and ought to be happy.
  • Being convinced that you can fix the things that detract from your happiness can make you especially prey to irrational happiness beliefs.

Do you ever wonder if you should be happier than you are? Perhaps you’re on vacation and have travelled at considerable time and expense to get to your destination, a beautiful and secluded beach resort. Having settled in to your temporary home, you’re ready to go out and enjoy your new surroundings. As you stretch out in the sand, you think “Okay, it’s time to have fun!” You want everything to be perfect and just as importantly, you want to be happy.

As you prepare to enter a state of joyful bliss, a sad thought starts to threaten your ability to enjoy the moment. Right before leaving town, a friend called to let you know that her father passed away the night before. What’s worse, this friend also learned recently that she has a potentially terminal illness requiring intense treatment over the next several months. You feel terrible just imagining what she’s going through but you also become annoyed with yourself. You’re on vacation. You should be happy!

There are probably no situations in life in which complete bliss is possible, whether it’s bad news, the weather, a physical ailment, or situations that are objectively stressful. It’s also true that even when you’re technically “happy,” there’s always something that can detract from your sanguine state. Maybe you’re worried about getting a sunburn or you see some gathering clouds on the horizon. Perhaps your travel companions are starting to annoy you. Yet, because you believe you “should” feel happy, you find it even harder to set these thoughts aside.

Happiness Can Have Its Dysfunctional Aspects

According to Ağrı İbrahim Çeçen University’s Murat Yildirim and University of Leicester’s John Maltby (2021), happiness may not be all that desirable a goal. On the one hand, being happy is a pleasant state (the mood you were in when you first lay down in the sand). More to the point, however, happiness becomes dysfunctional when you set yourself up as needing to be happy, no matter what. The Turkish-British authors suggest that people thwart their own ability to be happy by placing “excessive standards on themselves to attain happiness.”

… keep reading the full & original article HERE