5. You’re Only Happy When Things Are Going Well
Of course it’s awesome when it seems like the universe is on your side and things are just good. But it’s important to keep a realistic perspective that this won’t always be the case, and that’s OK. Because we’re all capable of feeling just the same if things don’t exactly go our way or according to plan. As author of Stumbling On Happiness, Dan Gilbert, said on his TED Talk, we can actually synthesize happiness, but we think happiness is only a thing to be found.
What he goes on to explain is the distinction between “natural happiness” — happiness that results from getting what we want — and “synthetic happiness” — what we make when we don’t get what we want. People don’t seem to think that synthetic happiness is as real or enduring as that natural happiness you stumble upon when you get just what you want, but science proves that wrong. Gilbert shares some pretty neat experiments in which people ended up being just as happy getting the thing they didn’t want in different situations.
6. You’re Always Fast-Forwarding
You live for the weekends, for a trip to escape, or maybe for that next relationship that’s supposed to bring you the happiness you deserve. Having this mindset pretty much guarantees the fleeting nature of your happiness. Revel in the little things and live for each moment. Practice being more present and more mindful. According to another research which deals with practicing mindfulness by accepting the present moment in a non-judgmental way can boost mood, reduce stress levels, and lead to a better quality of life. Your happiness will become so much more in your control because you can create it at any given time, rather than constantly chasing after the ambiguity of some just-out-of-your-reach future.
7. You “Can Only Be Happy If…”
He texts you back. You lose x amount of weight. You earn this amount of money. By attaching such constant variables to your state of happiness, you’re once again tying down your potential for happiness. Gilbert also pointed out that we have a tendency to fall into something called the tendency to fall into something called the impact bias. This is when we think outcomes are more different than they actually are. Things like failing a test or breaking up with your partner have far less impact, duration, and intensity than we expect. Once again, this is because happiness can be synthesized, which goes back to the first point that happiness is totally within our control. Thanks to our trusty psychological immune system, we’re able to change our views of the world so we feel better about the world in which we live.
Being happy is about you — no one and nothing else should affect it if it doesn’t have to, right? Exactly.