What Then If Happiness Is a Trap

Learn to get out of the happiness-trap by following Russ Hariss thoughts

Jan 23 · 7 min read
What Then If Happiness Is a Trap
What Then If Happiness Is a Trap
Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Just suppose for a moment that almost everything you believed about finding happiness turned out to be inaccurate, misleading or false. And suppose that those very beliefs were making you miserable. What if your very efforts to find happiness were actually preventing you from achieving it? And what if almost everyone you knew turned out to be in the same boat — including all those psychologists, psychiatrists and self-help gurus who claim to have all the answers?

This is the opening paragraph of the international bestseller book ‘The Happiness Trap: Stop Struggling, Start Living’ by Dr Russ Harris.

To be honest, he is quite right. He is acknowledged worldwide for his views about happiness. He believes that happiness doesn’t come by fighting our negative emotions and feelings. Instead, it happens when you make room for all the thoughts and emotion that come by.

You might also have listened to motivational speakers, might have sessions with psychologist, psychiatrist or have read some self-help guru’s book who claim to have found the way to happiness. But what if they are all trapped in happiness trap themselves?

All these people who claim to make your life happier are parroting the same old stuff in different ways without any practical results. They might have lost their track to true happiness.

But have you wondered that in your search of happiness you have lost it too and are actually in a happiness trap?

I wonder a new idea just hit your mind and opened it up in a new direction. You are thinking about your happiness that how it is or can be a trap?

Hold on your horses for a while. We are heading toward the most eye-opening passage of the article. And here is what Dr Russ Hariss says in his book.

Not knowing True Happiness

We lead our lives ruled by many unhelpful and inaccurate beliefs about happiness — ideas widely accepted by society because ‘everyone knows they are true’. On the surface, these beliefs seem to make good sense — that’s why you encounter them again and again in nearly every self-help book you ever read. But these erroneous beliefs are both the cause of and the fuel for a vicious cycle, in which the more we try to find happiness, the more we suffer. And this psychological trap is so well hidden, we don’t even have a clue that we’re caught and controlled by it.

This is true for all of us. We all tend to follow those explicit rules that are recommended to us time and again by various people. They aren’t wrong either.

They might have tried and unknowingly given themselves to the happiness trap. They might not know this even that they are actually in a psychological trap made by themselves.

The trap is so well hidden that we don’t know that we are trapped. You feel that all other people are happy out there, enjoying their lives except you. But you should know that all these people are thinking the same way as yours.

So, we tread those ways leading to happiness that we think are the reasons for making others happy. But that chase after shallow happiness actually makes us suffer more.

So, in our search of finding happiness, we have lost it. We are looking for happiness in things that are most of the time the reason for our sadness.

True happiness lies not in things but you. When you remember your potentials, your abilities, and the transitory nature of the world that everything changes so soon, all your worries vanish away quickly and you become relax and contended.

Making Room For Human Emotions

The reality is, life involves pain. There’s no getting away from it. As human beings, we are all faced with the fact that sooner or later we will grow infirm, get sick and die. Sooner or later we all will lose valued relationships through rejection, separation or death. Sooner or later we all will come face-to-face with a crisis, disappointment and failure. This means that in one form or another, we are all going to experience painful thoughts and feelings.

The good news is that, although we can’t avoid such pain, we can learn to handle it much better — to make room for it, rise above it and create a life worth living.

According to Dr Russ Hariss, happiness has two meanings. One that involves feelings of pleasure, gladness, and gratification.

These feelings are elusive in nature and don’t last long. Once achieved, they vanish away quickly. Or if they stay for while it will eventually fade away no matter how hard we try to hold them back.

So sticking with those fleeting happy moments and wanting them to stay plunge us into depression, anxieties, and mental disorders. Because we struggle not to let them go. Along with this we also try to block the ways for the moments of emptiness and sadness from coming into our lives.

This makes our happiness shorter. The struggle for it makes us miserable because we are not really enjoying them. Once you have started enjoying these happy moments and stopped worrying about their going away, you become more content and happy.

The other meaning is to live a life that is rich with a purpose and meaning. This is what you should know about. When we strive for the things that truly matter in our life and we clearly know that we heading towards our direction then the struggle is worthy and valuable.

This precise knowledge of our direction makes us happy for a life to come. Just like all those great philosophers and saints out there who clearly knew that what is happiness but they also knew that miseries are part of life and we can’t escape it. That’s why they lived a contented life.

When we clearly know what is worth really standing for, we find a purpose in our lives. This gives us a sense of vitality and makes our lives rich, full, and meaningful.

This sense of vitality is different from the pleasurable feelings that have a fleeting nature and it gives profound meaningfulness to our life. And this is what leads us toward true happiness.

But this doesn’t mean that we won’t get pains, fear, and anxiety in our meaningful lives. In reality, we all suffer from fear, pain, and anger. We can’t avoid it.

for instance, sooner or later, a happy couple has to have some misunderstanding. We all know there will be a separation. Maybe misunderstanding, getting bored, or any misfortune or death will at least make the separation.

This applies to all other things in life. You will eventually lose a valuable thing. By accident or by death, you have to let loose your strong grip and to let go of these things.

The happy part is, we all know this will happen, the sad part is, we are all shutting our eyes to reality. And this is where we get into a happiness trap.

Happiness doesn’t come by avoiding pain but by knowing how well to handle it.

The better way is to make a room for all these humanly feeling as in one way the other, they will likely happen. Because we are not robots programmed to do or feel certain things. We are human beings and we all encounter known and unknown feelings.

So escape is not the way, facing them is the way. But by facing I do not mean to fight them. I mean to accept them and be prepared for all sorts of feelings, emotions, moments and events mentally. And when negative feelings hit you, you will not be shattered by them. Because you will be already prepared for their arrival.

Transform your relationship with these feelings and drain their energy by knowing them, accepting them, and letting them come as we can’t avoid it.

Instead of running after pleasurable feelings, make room for every human feelings and emotion and make a relation with them, this will give you a sense of vitality, and long-lasting satisfaction of a deeply fulfilled life.


Life is not something made of happy feelings for some and sad for others. It is the amalgamation of happy and sad for everyone. We are not robots or some other scientific objects that we can avoid or become insensible to negative feelings.

We all feel the same way. We all get sad at the death of a dear one. We all feel sorry for the wrongs we have done. We all regret for the time we have wasted or the precious moments we haven’t utilized. Feelings are all the same. Because we are all the same — human beings.

We can’t avoid or stop negative feelings from coming to us. They will come with the due course. Stopping them or fighting them can only make the matters worse.

So, the best way is to accept all the feelings. To know that both good and bad will happen and all happen for good in the end. So make room for everything in your life. Enjoy every moment with knowing that this had to come and this will pass too. As P.B Shelly says, ‘If winter comes, can spring be far behind.’


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Written by


Freelance writer and Poet, I write about personal development, History and Writing. https://bit.ly/3iaAioK



A community of people who are curious to find out what others have already figured out // Curious is a new personal growth publication by The Startup (https://medium.com/swlh).


Written by


Freelance writer and Poet, I write about personal development, History and Writing. https://bit.ly/3iaAioK



A community of people who are curious to find out what others have already figured out // Curious is a new personal growth publication by The Startup (https://medium.com/swlh).

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