MYTH: It Is Simple To Be Healthier and Happier

I will call this a myth because I don’t think it is true for most of us, especially those of us raised in Calvinist traditions, where suffering is a sign of virtue and intelligence.  It isn’t.

To the contrary, “Research suggests that the best self-help advice may have very little to do with yourself”, according to this excellent Pocket article.  Instead, the key is learning to like other people.

Which is difficult given the evidence-free “stranger danger” conditioning we were saturated with as children and young parents (fact is, less than 1% of abductions are by strangers).

Here’s the most fascinating cognitive bias in the article:

“Research shows that we tend to think we’re better than average at almost everything, meaning that others are worse – including less trustworthy [emphasis mine] . . . we tend to think our own motivations are intrinsic whereas others’ are extrinsic” (I work hard because I love my job.  They work hard only because they’re getting paid).

Isn’t it sad that that we have trouble assuming that others have good intentions?  We should give others the benefit of the doubt unless they provide evidence to the contrary, shouldn’t we?

“Finally, while research on optimism—including assuming the best of others— almost universally shows  its benefits for success and satisfaction in both work and life, people tend to fear being seen as an unrealistic “Pollyanna.”


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