Each year on October 31, Americans celebrate Halloween by dressing in costumes, exchanging candy and, most of all, scaring each other. The usual candidates for fright include Ghosts, Monsters, Zombies, crawly things, and Vampires.
Believe it or not, Happiness frightens some people more than giant spiders. In honor of Halloween, I’ve assembled a list of stories people tell when they try to resist the conversation about Happiness. As you’ll see, while these myths can feel as scary as any monster, in the end they are only as “real” as vampires and zombies.
13 Scary Stories About Happiness
1. Fiction: I’m too stressed, I’m too busy, and I have too many things going on in my life to be happy. It’s too much work to be happy, and I don’t have time or the energy.
Fact: Yes, living in more positive emotional states can take some work. The paradox, of course, is that when you carve out some time for happy-making pursuits, your burdens feel lighter, even if they don’t go away. You see, happier people don’t have less work or problems in their life, but they are more resilient and are able to handle more stressful events before they reach their limit.
2. Fiction: I can’t. He/She/They won’t let me be happy.
Fact: YOU have the final decision about your happiness. As Viktor Frankl, a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp, wrote, “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way” Frankl reminds us that even if we are completely under another’s control, we still own our mind and have the power to choose our attitude.
3. Fiction: It doesn’t belong in the business world. Many people fear that talking about emotions – their own or their employees’ – is not a “real” business concern.
Fact: That mindset is SO last Millennium! It’s now been 11 years since the Gallup organization, in their groundbreaking book, First, Break All The Rules, presented irrefutable evidence that engaged (a politically-correct code word for Happy) employees are more productive, have better tenure and attendance, and contribute more to organizational success than their DISengaged (aka UNhappy) coworkers.
Numerous other workplace studies have proven that those who report feeling happier at work are more creative, healthier, and actually have fewer on-the-job accidents and make fewer errors. And all that profit-making behavior is very important to business!
4. Fiction: People will mock me and call me names, like Pollyanna. They will say my attitude is unrealistic.
Fact: The stereotype of Pollyanna (a book and movie character) gets applied to people who others assess as “unrealistically optimistic.” Most people forget that at the end of the story, Pollyanna proved that your expectations tend to create your outcomes. A line from the book reads, “When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will” and of course the opposite, as well. So, why NOT have positive expectations? Even if you are occasionally wrong, the journey’s a lot more fun.
5. Fiction: It won’t last (so why bother?).
Fact: This one is true — Happiness won’t last. But then, neither will sadness, anger, fear, or any other normal emotion. Happiness is a great place to visit, and I hope you get there often. Yet every emotion has a purpose, and you want to visit those emotions when they will serve you better. (Tip: try to visit Happiness daily, to keep in practice!)
6. Fiction: My enemies (or boss, or rivals) will think I’m weak. I’ll get hurt.
Fact: The emotional family to which Happiness belongs is a very grounded and solid one. Active practice of the positive emotions like joy, confidence, forgiveness, hope, enthusiasm, ambition, and gratitude actually make you incredibly strong.
See the next 7 Scary Stories