3 of the Most Surprising Misconceptions About Happiness, According to Science

Updated 10/23/17

Everyone has a different definition of happiness, but it's a feeling that most people spend their entire lives chasing. Scientists know that a variety of lifestyle factors and choices influence happiness, like your finances, how you spend your free time, and even the way you understand what it means to be happy. But as Business Insider reports, most people hold onto common misconceptions about how to find happiness that can stand in the way of their goals. These are the modes of thought you need to drop in order to feel happy:

Money Can't Buy Happiness

Money actually can increase happiness as it enables people to live more comfortable lives, but only up to a point. One study from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School found that a plateau in happiness will occur once you reach a salary of $75,000 a year. This, of course, depends on the cost of living where you reside. For example, it's estimated that New Yorkers won't reach peak happiness until making a salary of $105,000.

Longer Vacations Bring Greater Happiness

While a long vacation may sound like the key to happiness, this may not be the case. Psychologist Daniel Kahneman says that a one-week trip can bring more happiness than a two-week trip. He reasons that humans are composed of the experiencing self and the remembering self. The remembering self will find joy in memories instead of by living in the moment like the experiencing self. So because memories tend to mix together over time, a longer trip won't make you any happier than a shorter one.

People Should Strive to Be Happy All the Time

Contrary to popular belief, happiness is not something you can obtain and keep for your entire life. Philosopher Jennifer Hecht argues in her book The Happiness Myth that it's much more complicated than that. There are actually multiple kinds of happiness that can contradict each other, like when you pass on something fun in the short term to work toward a long-term goal that will bring you greater happiness later on. Maximum happiness actually stems from an understanding of life's low points; it's not always something you have to practice and work towards, but something that comes naturally.

Head to Business Insider for the full story, and read about what happy and confident women do differently next.

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