If you are suffering from the eye-bulging pain of dengue fever then no, you won’t be happy. Having bad health will make us unhappy, but that doesn’t mean the reverse is true, that good health makes us happy. There are plenty of healthy, glum people about.
Fairly obviously, get plenty of sleep, eat nutritious food, and avoid catching dengue fever.
Q. ‘Are you saying someone with poor health can’t be happy?’
No, because it is feasible that someone with chronic poor health, perhaps even chronic pain, might eventually come to terms with their illness and return to the same level of core happiness (the day-to-day general feeling of well-being) they had before. Naturally, they’d give anything to be well again and free of pain, but that would not have to mean their level of core happiness is low.
I have met people with chronic pain who do consider themselves to be leading happy lives. And I’ve met people with perfect health, with no major problems, who aren’t happy.
Q. ‘Could someone with a terminal illness be happy?’
Again, it is feasible that a person suffering the pain, anguish and fear of a terminal illness, and who is terribly unhappy, might still consider themselves to be leading a happy life.
‘How? How could that be?’
Because they can instinctively distinguish between their temporary unhappiness and their core happiness. Yes, they’ll be experiencing bucket-loads of misery, yet still be aware that underneath it all, life is worth living and enjoyable.
At least, that’s how I see it. I have not asked heaps of people with chronic pain or terminal illness how happy they are. Nor will I.
I do remember a neighbour grieving terribly for the loss of his missus, but he still considered himself to be happy. It’s a contradiction explained by making the distinction between our temporary happiness and core happiness.
Here are some other happiness myths:
– The positive thinking myth. We are often told that we need to look on the bright side if we want to be happy. We need to see the glass half full. But is that helpful advice?
– Myth: we need money to be happy. Surely we need money to be happy, don’t we? Without it we would be in dire straits. So, why is it a myth?
– Myth: to be happy we need to be kind. Countless times we are told that becoming a kind person will make us happier. Why isn’t that true?
– Myth: We are happier with only a few possessions. Will having fewer possessions make us feel happier? How does that work?
– Myth: We need to suffer before we can be happy. Helen Keller once said: ‘The hilltops would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.’ Is she right?
– Myth: We need to reach our full potential. The life coaches offer to help us become better people, yet in another breath tell us to accept ourselves for who we are. What’s going on?
– Myth: With wisdom comes happiness. Time and again we see in the movies a strong correlation between wisdom and happiness. Do we need to be wise to be happy?
– Myth: We need close relationships to be happy. It’s the biggest, most common myth about happiness of them all. Nearly everyone says it. Yet, it’s not true.
– Myth: We can choose to be happy. This is one of the most pernicious myths going around. Of course we can’t choose to be happy!
– Myth: Happiness comes from having low expectations. Don’t expect much and you won’t be disappointed, goes the saying. But does that equal happiness? Of course not.
– Myth: We need to foster compassion to be happy. The Buddhists are particularly keen on the idea of fostering compassion. So, should we foster it?