The Big Lie About "Finding Happiness"

This happiness myth may make you feel ashamed of your honest suffering.

Posted Jun 17, 2018

You may have noticed that many  books, blogs and inspirational speakers make large and silly promises.  Break free from fear and you’ll soar like an eagle, reverse the aging process and attract a bevy of sexy and appreciative lovers.  As one self-help book puts it, “Bliss is available to anyone at anytime, no matter how difficult life may be.”  

And that is the most hurtful myth of all—the idea that every one of us can create ourselves a great day no matter how painful our current circumstances. We need only to choose happiness, along with a brighter attitude and a new set of skills.

Of course, each of us can move in the direction of experiencing less fear and more calmness, love and peace. There are many paths we can take to become more whole and centered, to navigate our relationships with greater clarity and conviction, and to grab a little dignity and peace along the way. We can’t stop bad things from happening, but we can stop our relentless focus on how things were or how we want them to be, and develop a deeper appreciation for what we have now. We can work on becoming our best and bravest selves.

But it is arrogant and deeply dishonest to tell people that they can transform their own reality and find joy no matter how dreadful their circumstances. Such a falsehood only breeds silence and shame about our honest suffering.

Sooner or later the universe will send every one of us a crash course in vulnerability, meaning that you—or someone you love—will get a great big lesson in all the painful emotions that we try so hard to avoid.  As I explain in The Dance of Fear, there are things we can each do to live our life to the best of our possibilities.  But  it is not useful to deny that fear and suffering define the human condition as much as happiness and joy.

Disbelieve any expert who tells you differently.