Does being happy always seem out of your reach, no matter how hard you try? Does it seem like you are the only person you know who can’t just feel good at will?
The truth about being happy
It’s a myth that anyone feels happy all the time, or that life is supposed to make us happy, even.
It’s also a Western myth. Research even shows some cultures are against the Western happiness obsession and definition of happiness. Nor do they have such a big problem with depression and anti-depressants, which leads to the next point.
Buying into the myth we are supposed to feel happy all the time makes us so obsessed with what stops our happiness, we can lose the capacity to see what we do have and what is going right. So the pursuit of happiness can lead to anything but.
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Myths about happiness you need to know
Let’s quickly break down the big myths about happiness that have you seeing everyone else as happy but not yourself.
1.Smiling, laughing people are happy.
As any psychotherapist can tell you, people who seem the happiest can be the most depressed. They have just struggled so long with their own sense of failure they’ve created a perfect false exterior. So don’t make assumptions about other people’s happiness.
2. Mentally healthy people are happy all the time.
Absolutely not. People who seem happy non-stop can have serious issues with repression and denial. Life involves breakups, job loss, bereavement, divorce…. Everyone goes through sadness, anger, and fear.
Good mental health means we know how to process our emotions, learn from experience, and bounce back, known as ‘resilience’.
3. There is something wrong with you if you are not happy.
Constant unhappiness does not mean you are flawed. It means there is something within you that needs dealing with. Unhappiness can even be seen as a sign there is something right with you – your emotional system works.
5 Major reasons being happy is not easy for you
1.You never learned to be happy when growing up.
If your parents disapproved of displays of emotion, punished you for it, or even if they were just very negative all the time? You might have learned how to be miserable and negative in order to fit in and earn affection.
Unfortunately, that behaviour continues into adulthood. You unknowingly focus on what isn’t working all the time, and assume the worse. Your hidden negative belief system can even drive you to make bad choices that continue to make your life worse.
2. You grew up in a culture where showing joy wasn’t done.
If you grew up in a culture where showing joy was seen as arrogant and insensitive, and now you live in a culture where it’s expected? People might always ask why you are sad. Inside, you might be quite content.
3. You have a naturally more sensitive personality.
Some people are naturally more sensitive than others, so are more reactive to difficult things and experience sadness more easily. You might, though, also feel more joy than usual, if and when you do feel happy.
4. Your basic physical and emotional needs are not being met.
If you don’t have the basics of life in place so that you can feel safe, then happiness is much harder.
The most known theory here is Abraham Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs’. At the bottom are basics like food and warmth, and security, building up to emotional needs like friendship. Higher up still are things like a sense of accomplishment, but they are harder to achieve without the lower needs in place.
A more modern form of this idea is called “Human Givens”. A psychotherapeutic approach by British psychotherapists Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell, it proposes mental illness simply doesn’t exist if basic emotional needs are met.
5. You experienced difficulties or even trauma as a child.
If you do everything in your power to be happy but it just doesn’t work? Then there is a high chance that you have unresolved childhood issues or even childhood trauma.
When we experience difficulties as a child they change the very way we see the world. Trauma can even change our brain structure. Without realising it, this leads to being an adult living his or her life from a limited perspective that blocks your happiness.
What can I do if being happy is hard for me?
If you’d like to learn basic things you can start implementing into your daily life, then sign up to our blog now to receive an alert when we post our next piece in this series, “Easy Ways To Feel Happier With Yourself and Your Life.”
If you feel that your past experiences are driving your present unhappiness, consider professional support. Yes, friends are great, and so is self help. But a registered therapist creates a safe, unbiased space for you to move forward much faster.
Harley Therapy puts you in touch with some of London’s best counsellors and therapists. Not in London, or not even in the UK? Find UK-wide registered therapists on our booking site, or book Skype therapy from anywhere.
Still have a question about being happy, or want to share an experience about how you helped yourself feel better? Share in the public comment box below.