Happiness Tool 3 - Defeating Faulty Thinking 1

One of the best things I ever learned about being happier is “don’t believe everything you think.” We all know that our eyes and ears can deceive us, our hearts don’t always have the best judgment, and our hormones can lead us astray. But our thoughts are sacred! We have to listen them because they’re the rational part... right?
Not necessarily. Our thoughts are shaped by our assumptions about the world (this is what I refer to as "world view" I commented about this at the bottom of yesterday's post), and sometimes those assumptions are just plain wrong. Our thoughts are also shaped by what
we’ve been in the habit of thinking about in the past. The pathways in your brain become more established each time you go down them, and
the ones you don’t use fade away. That’s why many of us can sing the words to our favorite
songs with almost no effort, but hardly remember any world history or trigonometry.
Each time you think about something, you’re reinforcing that path in your brain.
This means that if you spend a lot of time thinking about the good things in your life, it
gets easier and easier to do so, and if you spend a lot of time thinking about the bad
things in your life, that gets easier and easier, too.
Also, your interpretation of events may simply be inaccurate. This is especially true if you’re in the habit of thinking everything is awful or terrible. If you find yourself thinking something like “I’ll never again be as happy as I was when [whatever],” dispute that thought. I don’t mean cook up some happy lie to tell yourself, I mean get factual. Do you know for sure that you’ll never be that happy again? How do you know? Were you really that happy in the first place? 

Any time you catch yourself feeling down, examine your thoughts. 


  • Ask yourself: what am I thinking? 
  • Is it really true?  
  • Do I know for certain? 
  • Is there another way I could look at this that’s also true but less painful?
  • We have great power to make ourselves unhappy with our thoughts. In fact, there are
  • ten common things that people think, that make them miserable and just aren’t true.


1. Other people’s opinion of you is crucial, and if they reject you, it means you’re worthless.
There are tons of counter-examples for this. How many great artists and writers never got
published or accepted until after their death?
There will always be people who think you’re great and people who don’t. Look for what you
can learn from the people who don’t, but otherwise, ignore them. If you believe you’re doing the right things, that’s all that matters. (If you don’t, you’ll never be happy. Change what you’re doing until you do!)

2. You must not fail at anything important or something terrible will happen.
Fear of failure is a huge roadblock to trying things and doing things. So many of us have
the idea that we have to be perfect or nobody will love us and we’ll be failures. That is just If you suffer from this belief, consider this: are your friends perfect? When
they make a mistake, do you hate them and scorn them? That would be ridiculous—they’re
only human, right? Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody, including you. In fact, nothing gets discovered or created without any mistakes.
How many times did Thomas Edison try to invent the light bulb before he actually came
up with something that worked?

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NB: The note added above in italics is my opinion, these posts are excerpts from the book How to Be Happy by Cara Stein for anyone that didn't read the initial post, any inclusion in italics are my own thoughts and opinions.

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