A half-truth is the most cowardly of lies. ~ Mark Twain
Someone owes you an apology.
Right now. And it had better be a good one.
Because your happiness has been crippled by some seriously twisted half-truths.
Heck, you’ve been told the exact opposite of how happiness works. I hesitate to say you’ve been lied to… but then again you have!
You deserve better. You deserve the whole truth. Not some half-baked truth that’s little better than the lie it disguises.
You’ve worked really hard to try and find happiness. And having found it, to keep it. Because it’s all to easily knocked to the floor by a partner or parent’s harsh words, the boss’ bad mood or overdue utility bills hitting your inbox or doormat.
But there’s the other kind of happiness. One that can withstand disappointment, disillusion and disagreement.
One that lets you keep smiling when everyone else is reaching for a bottle.
That happiness is totally real. But if you continue believing these half-truths, it’ll never happen.
So yeah, that apology is long overdue.
It’s time to expose those happiness-stealing half-truths for the crippling lies they are…
Put others first
You’ve been told you need to put others first since you were out of diapers. After all, that’s what all decent people do, isn’t it? We all want to do the right thing. And putting ourselves before others, well, that just sounds wrong. Selfish even.
- Do sick people look after sick people in hospital?
- Do homeless people house homeless people?
- Do unhappy people spread happiness?
In truth, we all do what we can. But your basic needs need to be met first…because your happiness isn’t going to thrive if the needs of others come before yours.
And your happiness needs to be in a good shape to really help others. If possible you need to be full of joy and energy.
Get that right and you can help so many more people. Genuinely help. Effectively help. Not the half-baked version of help that comes with trying to put on a happy face when you’re really feeling down, exhausted or lost in life yourself.
That’s why they insist you put your oxygen mask on first before your kid’s when there’s a mid-air emergency. What good are you to your kid if you’re half-conscious?
The whole truth is you need to put your happiness first if you are going to effectively help other people to be happy.
Make Your Parent’s Proud
Oh, there’s another common half-truth that’s a total happiness assassin. The job of making your parents proud. This is closely related to putting other’s first.
‘Make me proud, daughter! I gave you life and love. Now it’s payback time, right?’
Of course they don’t think of it this way. Most parents aren’t trying to lay a guilt trip on you. But somehow the odds don’t seem in any way even. The cards are stacked.
They may have cared for you and give you opportunities. Even heaped genuine love on you. But why and where the heck did making them proud come from?
‘Make me proud, son!’ I put you through school and college.’
Because you know what? Your dreams and desires aren’t theirs. Just because you share a little DNA, you can’t make them proud. Only they can do that.
You can bust your back trying to get a first class honors, or a six figure pay check or a fancy title. And will it make them proud? Maybe, maybe not. It’s a lottery.
So concentrate on your job – making yourself proud.
And let them concentrate on their job – deciding that they are going to be proud of you because, and only because, you decided to have the courage to live life your way.
Now that’s something any parent should be truly proud of.
The whole truth is it’s your job to make your parents proud of nothing. Live your life, let them live theirs. Love each other and both be proud that neither of you feel the need to dictate the other’s life.
Honesty Is The best Policy
Another rotten half-truth that’s wormed its way insidiously inside us is that honesty is always the best policy.
Who could argue with that?
Well, anyone with a good heart to start with.
Sure we want to live in a nice world where we can trust each other. Where we don’t worry that we’ll be lied to by friends or scammed out of our hard-won cash by strangers. We all want to know who we can trust. And that means we need to always be honest, right?
Yes. To a point.
Up to the point that someone’s honesty would ruin someone else’s day, pick of their self-esteem from a hundred paces or stab their ego through the heart.
Or even destroy their life.
We’re all human and no matter how buff and resilient we pretend to be, underneath it all we’re delicate, fragile beings. And if you’ve got a good heart, in some situations the brutal, harsh truth needs to be left unsaid. A little white lie needs to go in its place. Even to yourself.
Because life gets tricky. In fact, It can get brutal and messy no matter how hard you try. Blurring the truth can seriously rocket your happiness and someone else’s if you swap feeling guilty for feeling good that you deliberately put their feelings first.
The whole truth is honesty is only the best policy if it builds rather than destroys happiness. If it does more harm than good, to hell with the truth! In the real world, kindness is always the best policy for everyone’s happiness.
Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
Like most of these half-truths, this next one is very well-intentioned. But oh boy, is it going to mess you up. You’ve been told that comparing yourself to others is wrong. And again, that’s a lie.
‘Don’t do it’ is the general cry. ‘Just stop!’.
It’s a lie because there is nothing wrong with comparing yourself to others. And this lie just makes you feel bad about doing it.
Comparing yourself to others is a basic human trait. It’s the mechanism that lets you process the world around you and where you fit into it. Everyone does it – me, you, Oprah, the President. Everyone to some extent or another.
Taking that away is like pulling the plug on your oxygen. You’ll be left reeling, gasping, no idea which way to turn.
The truth is, you need to compare yourself to the right people. The right ones for you. Which doesn’t include…
- Beating yourself up over an apparently ‘more successful’ friend’s amazing – and carefully selected – Facebook photos.
- Feeling desperately unattractive after leafing through glossy, glamorized – and carefully edited – images of models.
- Feeling like a failure while reading articles on the rich and famous.
Comparing yourself to other people’s half-truths is like drinking Drano to cure a stomach ache. It’s pure poison to your happiness.
Remember most people are liars, even if they do it subconsciously. And I don’t mean that to be an insult, or an accusation. It’s the truth. And if they aren’t lying, they’re telling half-truths. Exaggerating, or ‘touching up’ or ‘dressing up’ or a hundred other euphemisms.
Most of what you see out there is a distorted version of the truth at best. So where the heck does that leave you?
Well, there is only one surefire way to know if someone is a good model to compare yourself to…
- If looking at how they live makes you happy rather than depressed.
- If researching what they’ve achieved inspires you rather than de-motivates you.
- If looking at how they look makes you feel good about how you look right now.
The whole truth is that comparing yourself to someone else can and should make you feel good. It should leave you excited, energized, eager. If you come away with negative emotions, drop that person as someone to ever compare yourself to.
Discard those half-truths and grow your happiness.
You’ve been lied to, however well intentioned.
But you may never get an apology.
Because most people spend their whole lives believing in these half-truths.
But now you know the whole truth, you can throw off those shackles to your happiness.
- Go make yourself happy first – and then spread that happiness around all the better.
- Go make yourself proud – and then let your parents make themselves proud of you.
- Go out goodhearted and make someone feel good in their heart – and then worry about the truth.
- Go compare yourself to someone who makes you feel good right now – and then keep doing it.
Go embrace the whole truth.
Because the purpose of life is to be happy.
And that includes you.
Laura Tong, a former health professional, is on a mission to help you become the most positive, happy version of yourself. Grab her free cheat sheet: 5 Guilt Free Ways To Say No Without Offending Anyone (Even If You Hate Conflict). Laura also hosts the Re-write The Rules In Your Life interview series where she shares awesome happiness and positivity tips from experts around the world. Click here to listen free to the latest episodes. Along with her partner, Mark, Laura founded PositivelyHappy.Me to help you live, love and laugh like a kid again, simplify your life and find your smile in hard times.
Image courtesy of cuncon.