Mind & Body

What so many people get wrong about happiness, according to Turia Pitt


She’s literally written the (a) book on happiness, and as Turia Pitt tells Body+Soul, there are still a lot of things the rest of us get wrong about it.  

I may be scheduled to interview Turia Pitt this New York evening, (morning her time), but she’s the one asking the questions right now. What has it been like in New York in a pandemic? Who did I move with? Can you see friends in person?

Her curiosity is a testament to her immeasurably kind and thoughtful nature, which is what I want to know more about from her. Like, why is it so easy to be kind to others when we’re so hard on ourselves?

“We’re wired to be self-critical, be down on ourselves, spend too much time in our heads, reflect on what we’ve done wrong in the day,” she says.

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While historically being critical of oneself may have benefited our very survival a long time ago, it doesn’t serve much of a purpose now.

“Being kind to ourselves is definitely more challenging than being kind to other people. I think, especially for women, they are really great at putting others first and putting their families first,” she observes, adding that if we prioritise self-care, like going for a walk or journaling, we feel better about ourselves which helps us to be kinder.

Sometimes, though, we have off days. And while it might be tempting to resist feeling sad, it’s important to take all your emotions in stride, says Pitt.

“If you’re feeling bad, sometimes it’s good just to accept it. And just to say, ‘You know what, I feel like shit’,” she says.

Sometimes we have the capacity to wallow, like if the blues strike on the weekend and all you want to do is sit in your trackies all day and watch Netflix. But if you’re on a deadline for example (hello), it’s a little harder to just throw your hands up and walk away; that’s when you go for that walk around the block or take a few deep breaths to recentre yourself.

The problem with how we think about happiness is that it’s seen as a place to arrive at, says Pitt, an idea she wrote about in her book Happy (and other ridiculous aspirations) which was published late last year.

“I think the biggest misconception is that people think happiness is a destination,” she says.

“They think when I get that job promotion, when I get married, when I get a dog, when I have a kid, when I get a new car, all of those things, when I get that, then I’ll be happy.”

This is called Arrival Fallacy; the illusion that when we achieve our goals or reach a destination, we will reach everlasting happiness. The issue, of course, is that this way of thinking is finite, and life simply doesn’t work that way. There will always be something else to strive for and it will ultimately leave us feeling unfulfilled.

“It’s more about trying to find happiness in your everyday life, which sounds really boring. And really trite,” she says, “but it’s about relishing time with your family and friends, trying to enjoy those connections with people. It’s about waking up every morning and thinking about what it is you’re looking forward to.”

When is Pitt at her happiest? When she’s outdoors, running, or surfing. With her kids and husband at the beach.

“And when I’m not multitasking,” she adds.

“When I’m not rushing around the house like a madwoman trying to get dinner ready. When I’m present and in the moment.”

And that is something I’m sure we can all strive for.

Turia Pitt is an ambassador for sustainable supplement company Kynd, which for every product sold, an immunity product is donated to an Australian in need.