Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths. Joseph Campbell.
1. If I could get a better job, house, car, lover, more money … I’d be much happier!
People that alter their life in the quest to seek happiness generally discover the grass isn’t always greener. In his book Happier, Harvard Psychology Professor Tal Ben-Shahar calls this the “arrival fallacy” – the belief that when you arrive at a certain destination, you’ll be happy, when the truth is that you will never arrive and be as happy as you suspect. Happiness is a choice. Rather than changing your current situation try to accept it and look at all the positives it brings. This line of thought will bring you much more peace of mind than putting yourself through a big change in the quest for being happier. The key to feeling happier is to take time to get to know what kind of person you want to be and understand what really matters most in your life and then live it.
2. A life of leisure will make you happy
We all fantasise of endless vacations in paradise, but according to The Happiness Project, studies have shown that a life of leisure quickly leads to boredom. Tal Ben-Shahar says that in spite of all your freedom, you cannot be happy without work. That doesn’t mean a 9 to 5 job, it could be completing a productive, fulfilling activity such as helping a charity.
3. Spending time alone will make you feel better
When we’re feeling down, it’s tempting to hide away, stay in bed and watch movies all day, but it’s been proven that connecting with other people is more likely to improve your mood – and this is true even for introverts! According to the Happiness Project, out of fifteen daily activities such as exercising, housework, commuting, going to the gym, grocery shopping … everything is more fun with company.
4. Money will make me happy
Studies have shown that the income level you need to achieve in order to be happy is approximately $40 000 per year. The average income in Australia is around $55 000 which means Australians don’t have a lot of reason to be unhappy. Those that believe that money will buy them happiness risk never being fulfilled because at the end of the day, where will it end? How much money will be enough?
5. People with high self-esteem are happier than people with low self-esteem
INCORRECT! While a positive self-esteem is a good thing, it doesn’t actually impact our core happiness. Having a high self-esteem makes it easier to find partners, get jobs, and win promotions … but you won’t be any happier. Core happiness isn’t about how well your life is going but about how you feel about the life you have. There are plenty of people in the world who think highly of themselves but aren’t happy.
6. Optimism isn’t realistic
Optimistic people tend to think the glass is half full, and it is. How you think about a situation, determines how you feel – which is why we believe happiness is a choice. You control what you think about a situation and therefore how you feel, which affects how you act and this greatly influences how others respond to you. All in all, it’s better to live optimistically and not just for your own piece of mind.
7. You can achieve happiness … forever!
Fairytales aside, the human brain is equipped with “hedonic set points” which not only establish where our base mood is (optimistic, pessimistic or indifferent), but also quickly adapts to our surroundings and returns to our base frame of mind. In 1978, a research group found that lottery winners, jerks and those who has serious injuries (e.g. parapledgic or quadriplegic) reported a similar number of good days compared to bad days. Some psychologists believe that we experience only a brief moment of fleeting happiness when we achieve a goal before our minds look forward to the next conquest. They call this the “hedonic treadmill”. It doesn’t mean that in between feeling happy that you are completely miserable, you just fall back into the normal mood pattern – even the Dalai Lama is on a continuous quest for happiness.
8. People with a c-shaped smile are happier
It’s often perceived that people with a c-shaped smile are happier than those with a u-shaped smile. A c-shape smile goes across the mouth with most of the the top teeth showing, whereas a u-shape smile has the teeth going straight back into the mouth. If the shape of one’s teeth could determine their level of happiness, we’d all get plates and braces or have surgery to re-mould the shape of our smiles to be c-shaped! This is totally untrue. There is no evidence at all so show that people with a c-shape smile, like Britney Spears or Jessica Simpson, are friendlier or happier than those with a u-shape, like what Christina Aguilera has. That surgery does exist and some celebrities have had it if you look closely: Cheryl Cole, Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Garner. It makes a difference to their smile, and cosmetically they look great, but it would not have impacted their long-term happiness.
Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating…too often fathers neglect it because they get so caught up in making a living they forget to make a life. John Wooden.
Good male celebrity role models are as hard to find as good female celebrity role models. Consider the following and what you think of when their names are mentioned: Bill Clinton, Tiger Woods, Chris Brown, Kyle Sandilands…
Continuing on from my last blog which examined female celebrity role models, Happiness Weekly looks at male celebrities and recommend who our younger generations SHOULD look up to.
Top Role Models: Happiness Weekly’s favourite celebrity men
6 July 1935 (77 years old)
Known to be friendly, happy, sane, compassionate and wise, the Dalai Lama inspires millions of people with his Buddhist and balanced approach to life. Working with psychiatrist Howard Cutler, he recently published “The Art of Happiness – a handbook for living” which reached number 2 on the New York Times best seller list. He believes that every action has a reaction, and that reaction will seed another result. “My life has not been easy… I learned that one’s own mental state is crucial. If one remains calm one creates a peaceful atmosphere. If one loses one’s temper and calmness, the situation becomes more complicated and more trouble is created,” he said.
30 August 1985 (27 years old)
Not just a pretty face, this Olympic swimmer was the first winner of television’s MasterChef, then going on to open a café Louis Baxter in Subiaco Square near Perth, and released his own cookbook: Eamon’s kitchen – 130 robust, no fuss recipes for everyday and entertaining. In 2008 he held the world record for the 50m and 100m freestyle and he broke the 100m world record twice at the Beijing Olympic Games. To top off his list of achievements, he won the 2011 CLEO Bachelor of the Year. “A balanced diet is key to maintaining good health. I am a big believer in not robbing yourself of the things that you enjoy eating, however then balancing this out with healthy options throughout the week.”
7 June 1952 (60 years old)
He’s been through the greatest heartache in the public eye when his wife passed away after a devastating skiing accident, but Liam has managed to bounce back into his usual successful routine. The selfless actor quit smoking for his children and has been known to donate and be associated with several charities including Make Poverty History, Clothes Off Our Back, Bicycle for a Day and ONE Campaign. He has worked as a forklift operator, a truck driver, an architect, an amateur boxer and a teacher before pursuing his successful career in acting. “I’ve had an unbelievable life. I’ve been very lucky. You do create your own luck too, you know? I never forget where I’m from. Whenever I pass a building site or see somebody digging a ditch, I always think, ‘That’s real work.’…” He also said: “It’s interesting, the more successful you become the more people want to give you stuff for nothing,” he said.
18 December 1963 (49 years old)
Down-to-earth, masculine and charming, good looking, and wanted by Hollywood’s hottest actresses! This easy-going actor and film producer has been described as one of the most attractive men in the world. Despite bringing up six children with partner Angelina Jolie, Brad still finds time to support 33 different charities and assist with humanitarian crisis around the world. “I believe you make your day. You make your life. So much of it is all perception, and this is the form that I built for myself. I have to accept it and work within those compounds, and it’s up to me,” he said.
9 October 1940 (72 years old)
One of the most influential people in history, John’s quest for peace, love and understanding will always be remembered. In the 1960s and 70s, he was revolutionary in changing negative social values as he formed and led the most successful band of all time, The Beatles. He spoke out against things such as inequality and the Vietnam War. “We’re trying to sell peace, like a product, you know, and sell it like people sell soap or soft drinks. And it’s the only way to get people aware that peace is possible,” he said. Best of all, John was proud of who he was: “I’m not going to change the way I look or the way I feel to conform to anything. I’ve always been a freak. So I’ve been a freak all my life and I have to live with that, you know. I’m one of those people,” he said, also saying: “You don’t need anybody to tell you who you are or what you are. You are what you are!”
4 August 1961 (51 years old)
The President of the United States of America is arguably the best role model for the new generation. When he took the oath, Barack became the 44th president of his country. Despite his humble beginnings, he overcame all obstacles and achieved what he set out to do. He has a great personality – his charisma comes across when he speaks, and a charming family. He also gives a vibe of hope, courage and enthusiasm, with a strong “can do” attitude. His message is that if you have determination you will reach your destination, it doesn’t matter if the odds are in your favour or not. When your heart is in what you do, you produce the best you can. The love and joy that you feel is reflected in your work. Whatever it is then that you produce, be it a product or service, it not only improves your life spiritually and financially but it also improves the lives of other people too. “If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress,” he said.
13 July 1942 (70 years old)
He started out working as a carpenter but was made famous for his role as Han Solo in Star Wars and four years on, for his star roles in the Indiana Jones movies. In 1997, he was ranked #1 in Empire magazine’s Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time list, he has starred in a film that grossed at least $100m at the US Box Office for five consecutive decades and in 2000, he received an AFI Life Achievement Award. He has four children, has been married three times – currently to Calista Flockhart – and has had great involvement with charity work – particularly to do with environment, donating $100m to conservation partners around the world. “It took me a long time to figure out how to act, and how to conduct myself in the business so I could get what I felt I needed to support my potential and give them what they wanted.”
9 July 1956 (56 years old)
He has been married to Rita Wilson since 1988, won Academy Awards for his performances in Forest Gump, Philadelphia, Apollo 13, and Saving Private Ryan, and he is known to be one of the nicest actors in Hollywood. Involved in every part of film, Tom is an actor, writer, producer and director. On Veterans Day in 1999, he received the Distinguished Public Service Award (the US Navy’s highest civilian honour) for his work in Saving Private Ryan. “People always think that there has got to be a dark side to everyone, a closet with skeletons, demons under the bed. People think all kinds of things about one another. They feel compelled to make up fears and false assumptions about their closest friends. Truth is, I’ll never know all there is to know about you just as you will never know all there is to know about me. Humans are by nature too complicated to be understood fully. So, we can choose either to approach our fellow human beings with suspicion or to approach them with an open mind, a dash of optimism and a great deal of candour,” he said.
12 February 1979 (33 years old)
Australian actor and musician – he’s played the violin since he was 10 years old and also plays the guitar, bass and piano – he started out on Aussie drama Neighbours. He speaks fluent French, currently acts in US series House as Dr. Robert Chase, and in 2007 was listed in People magazine’s 100 Most Beautiful People. Although he hasn’t been in the public eye a lot, and there’s not too much mention of charity work, he has done very well to get to where he is, which is why I’ve included him in my role model list. “I`ve never thought of myself as a big star or a teenage pin-up. I`m just me. It`s probably Billy that people really like anyway, rather than me,” he said referring to his Neighbours character Billy Kennedy.
10 June 1978 (34 years old)
He won my heart playing the bad boy in A Walk to Remember opposite the beautiful Mandy Moore. Shane started acting when he was forced to take drama class in high school because he needed one more credit to graduate. He’s now acting in CW’s hit series Nikita. “Being a role model is tough. It’s tough because everyone is their own person, we all have our own faults you know, so it is hard to think that someone would consider having me as a role model when I know all of my faults (laughing) … Role models for me are my parents, so I try to be the best I can; if I am going to be a role model for somebody I try to be my best in and for the public,” he said.
There are still so many male celebrities worth mentioning in this blog including Steve Martin, Jack Nicholson, Ethan Hawk, Christian Bale (particularly for visiting the victims in Aurora recently), Clive Owen, Jake Gyllenhaal, Hugh Jackman and Wentworth Miller – but I wanted to leave room for discussion: who are your favourite male celebrity role models and why?