If there’s one universal goal for the entire human race, it’s most likely this: happiness. Although each of us may have our own definition of what happiness is or what it looks like, we all want to find our own version of it. But is that really possible, or is happiness a myth?
Certainly, there are days when happiness doesn’t feel possible. Those are the days when everything seems to go wrong, when you can’t catch a break, and when it feels like your life is falling apart.
Some scientists argue that the latter is closer to the truth.
Yes, there is science out there that seems to support the theory that humans are wired to be unhappy. These findings state that a state of prolonged happiness is really just an unachievable myth.
It’s a bit depressing, but is it true?
Arguments supporting the idea that happiness is a myth
People who believe that happiness is a myth tend to argue that:
Humans are designed to survive.
Like other living creatures, humans exist to prolong their own existence—to survive. Because of this, some scientists argue that a state of general “contentment” would actually be detrimental to our race, because it would trick us into thinking there are no threats in the world, which could expose us to those threats.
Humans are designed to reproduce.
Not only do we want to prolong our own individual existence, but we also want to prolong the existence of the species. Scientists see this as an evolutionary construct that supersedes our desire to be happy.
Humans are designed to be analytical.
Evolution also seems to support the idea that humans are meant to be rational beings. As humans have evolved, the frontal lobe of the brain (the part responsible for analytical thinking) has generally grown, demonstrating that rational thought is more “important” than happiness.
Why this matters
Not only do these people believe that happiness is a myth, but they also believe that it is our very search for happiness that is making us so unhappy.
It’s true that we live in a time when happiness is actively sought after. We are sent messages that happiness is the goal, that you should try to be happy all the time, and that happy people are successful, well-liked, influential people.
With the message that we are “supposed” to be happy firmly implanted in our minds, the “pursuit of happiness” can take some interesting directions. Some, like therapy and coaching, can be beneficial and even life-changing. Others, like alcohol or drugs, can be destructive and dangerous.
Because of this, people who claim that happiness is a myth often say that the constant push to be happy is actually doing more harm than good, and we would be better off learning to be content with both positive and negative emotions.
Where do you stand?
Clearly, plenty of people—intelligent people, even—believe that happiness is a myth. And a harmful myth at that.
The important question is this: what do you believe?
Do you believe that happiness is a myth? An unattainable goal?
We think that happiness can be learned, if you do it right, and that you can train your brain to think thoughts that will make your life happier overall. We believe you can come from happiness every day, allowing it to be present and occur always.
Once you learn how to design your life, we think you’ll agree with us.
Learn more about our thoughts on the happiness myth, and on designing your life, by checking out Part 2.
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