What we focus our thoughts on, we become. That can either work for us or against us. Sometimes it's not the reality of a situation that gets us into trouble, but what we think the reality of the situation is. And there's often a difference. What are seven commonly held beliefs that can get us into trouble?
1. Love and lust are the same thing
Simply put, they're not. The lust of instant attraction is not the kind of love that sustains people through 50 years of marriage. In Psychology Today, Judith Orloff, M.D. states: "Lust is an altered state of consciousness...that is much like a brain on drugs." She goes on to say that lust is the stage of "wearing rose colored glasses...while real love requires time to get to know each other." A certain amount of healthy lust for each other may be part of a happy marriage, but it doesn't form the foundation.
It's true that people who earn a good living are generally happier than people living in poverty. But research that sampled a nation-wide group of Americans found that the thought that life would be significantly happier with double the salary ($25,000 to $55,000 per year) did not turn out to be true. According to their research, only 9 percent of respondents were happier making $55,000 than $25,000. And beyond a threshold of $75,000 per year, people who made more money than that were not happier at all. The old saying is true: Money can't buy happiness.
3. Any dream can come true, if you want it badly enough
Television has convinced us that any of us can do anything. From popular shows such as "Shark Tank," to "The Voice," we tune in to watch ordinary people realizing their biggest dreams. Dreaming is a good thing. But it's unrealistic to expect that your biggest dreams will always come true. According to Forbes magazine, 543,000 new businesses were started each month of 2013. A whopping 80 percent of businesses fail in the first 18 months after start-up. Those are not good odds. Don't risk the loss of your home, and don't quit your day job, over what you think must be a sure thing. Balance the risks of what you will sacrifice against your dreams of success.
In 2012, close to 4,500 hopefuls made the drive to Irvine, Calif., to try out for "The Voice." All of these people believed they had the talent and the connections to win the contest. Only one of them did. Does that mean you shouldn't try and make your singing dreams come true? Of course not. But again, it's critical to weigh the benefits against the risks.
4. Being perfect is a good thing
It's not — not in this life anyway. The problems with perfectionism are legion and well documented. Marriages, families, and even performances are rarely flawless. Setting up ridiculously high performance standards for yourselves and others is a recipe for continuing disappointment.
5. My happiness is more important than yours
In the United States, about 40 to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. And the divorce rate for second and third marriages is even higher. While there are situations, such as abuse and betrayal, that are never acceptable sometimes people are hit with an attack of, "The grass is greener." Or, "I work hard, I deserve to be happy." Or, "Life is short." Their happiness becomes paramount, and the happiness of their spouses and children takes a back seat. It is possible to be happy and not be selfish.
Success is fleeting. It's rarely permanent. Don't equate success with a life lived with value and meaning. Jason Brown was a star football player in the NFL making $37 million a year, until he quit football to become a farmer. His goal is to feed the hungry, and he plans to donate the first fruits of every harvest. According to CBS News, last week Brown gave 100,000 pounds of sweet potatoes to food banks. Brown says: "Love is the most wonderful currency you can give anyone."
7. Hope is not a strategy
This is a common refrain in many companies. And while it's true that sitting around wishing and hoping doesn't get jobs done, one of the most important things in life is hope. Hope helps us get through the day. Hope propels us through the tough times. Those who give up all hope, die. Hope is one of the best strategies for making it through life.