Happiness: 6 Myths and Truths

We equate marriage with happiness. Most of us envision marriage as one of the things, if not the thing, that will most make us happy. Popular culture constantly publishes the notion of marriage as a state of being from which personal happiness arises and without which personal happiness is improbable. But what if marriage is incidental to happiness?

What if happiness is a state of mind over which we have substantial control? What if we ourselves in large measure control our own happiness? That is the message of “Happiness: 6 Myths and Truths,” on the WebMD website, which acknowledges research findings that genetics contributes to about 50% of one’s happiness set point, that goal achievement (such as money, a new house, a marriage) contributes about 10%, and that self-help (broadly defined) contributes about 40%.

The six happiness myths that the author sets out to debunk are:

Myth No. 1: Either you’re happy or you’re not.

Myth No. 2: Happiness is a destination.

Myth No. 3: You always adapt to your happiness set point (or you never have enough happiness).

Myth No. 4: Negative emotions always outweigh positive ones.

Myth No. 5: Happiness is always about hedonism (or play, play, play till the end of the day).

Myth No. 6: One size fits all.

Beyond debunking myths, the author cites research and suggests practical and positive activities, including altruistic activities, by which one may incrementally and daily act so as to increase and maintain one’s happiness set point, or as others might phrase it, one’s sense of well-being and self-worth. The article is well worth reading and acting upon.