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Why Miswanting Sabotages our Happiness


The holiday season is a time to celebrate the blessings of life with family and friends. Yet it’s also a time when we can fall into the trap of miswanting that sabotages our happiness.

What is miswanting? Miswanting is the tendency to misjudge what will make us happy. It’s the illusion that certain things or experiences will bring us long-term happiness when, in fact, they may not.  Just ask any kid who got their dream toy Christmas morning only to abandon the gift in favor of something else a few days later.

Miswanting. If I get blank- then I’ll feel happy. Not necessarily. A few examples of miswanting include:

  • Getting that new truck or car
  • Buying a new home when your existing home meets your needs
  • Losing weight or getting that ‘ideal’ body
  • Getting that super fast beautiful computer
  • Taking that dream vacation
  • Marrying your ideal mate…the perfect match

The human mind is great at imagining a future where having what we want makes us happy. However, this mindset is flawed as it ignores the multitude of reasons to be happy that we already possess and the challenges we’ll still face in that ideal future. It can be said that happiness isn’t so much a state of mind but an ongoing practice, says Yale psychology professor Laurie Santos. And she’s right as after we get what we want we will always revert to our baseline of happiness and then seek the next experience. 

So how can we rewire our thinking to avoid miswanting? Santos suggests five strategies:

  1. Prioritizing quality social connection
  2. Other-orientedness (focusing on others)
  3. Gratitude
  4. Savoring experiences
  5. Exercise

Our minds play tricks on us and miswanting is just one. Emphasizing the value of our experiences, seeking opportunities for gratitude, and reshaping our expectations is perhaps one gift we can all give ourselves this holiday season. 


Editor in Chief: HECMWorld.com
As a prominent commentator and Editor in Chief at HECMWorld.com, Shannon Hicks has played a pivotal role in reshaping the conversation around reverse mortgages. His unique perspectives and deep understanding of the industry have not only educated countless readers but has also contributed to introducing practical strategies utilizing housing wealth with a reverse mortgage.
Shannon’s journey into the world of reverse mortgages began in 2002 as an originator and his prior work in the financial services industry. Shannon has been covering reverse mortgage news stories since 2008 when he launched the podcast HECMWorld Weekly. Later, in 2010 he began producing the weekly video series The Industry Leader Update and Friday’s Food for Thought.
Readers wishing to submit stories or interview requests can reach our team at: info@hecmworld.com.

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