Dr. Russ Harris is a trainer of ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) and author of several books, one of which is called The Happiness Trap. Russ outlines three happiness myths that can give us a better perspective in how to be happy. Here they are (also watch this short video on the 3 myths):
- Happiness is the natural state for human beings: If we give people food, water, shelter, and loving relationships, then they’ll naturally be happy.
- Realignment: In reality, the natural state is an ever changing flow of emotions. Sometimes we’re happy, sometimes sad, sometimes angry. Each state brings a different dimension to our lives and broadens our overall experience.
- Happiness means feeling good: If this is our understanding of happiness, then there’s no chance of lasting happiness. Think of how long pleasurable feeling last before we experience some frustration, anxiety or fear.
- Realignment: Happiness is living a rich, full, and meaningful life. Meaning comes from stretching ourselves across the full range of our emotions, without running away from the less pleasant ones.
- If we’re not happy, we’re defective: If we’re not happy, then there’s something wrong with us. Feeling sad, angry, or depressed are perceived as wrong states. When we have difficulty moving beyond them, we think we’re defective.
- Realignment: In reality, if you’re not happy, you’re normal. Life is difficult. Difficult experiences give us challenges for learn. So, embrace that difficulty, even enjoy it.
Mental training involves changing how the mind perceives. There are many misperceptions that distract our attention. Becoming aware of such misperceptions allow us to notice when we’re distracted and redirect our attention to the task. The realignment of these three myths helps us accept and live within the inevitable struggles of our lives instead of avoiding them. We can enjoy the fullness of our life experiences and give meaning to our journeys.
Russ Harris website: ACTMindfully.com
Recommended book: ACT Made Simple (ww recommended book list)