We all have different desires and ambitions in life. Whether it is a successful career, a strong household and social network, an adventurous lifestyle or a combination thereof, the ultimate goal is simply to be happy. Oddly enough, according to a new study published in Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, our constant pursuit of happiness is in fact having the opposite effect, making us feel worse.
What is the study about?
Psychology researchers Zerwas and Ford, examined how chasing happiness can negatively impact our mental health both in the short and the long term.
Specifically, Zerwas illustrates a study in which one group of participants were shown a fake newspaper article related to happiness as a way of promoting its value. The other group read about a topic unrelated to happiness. All the participants were then shown a film clip.
Results showed that, after watching the clip, people who were induced to value happiness actually felt less happy compared to people in the other group.
Where is the pitfall?
This ‘happiness paradox’ suggests that when we focus too much on our happiness, we can be more easily disappointed by not feeling as happy as we had hoped. In other words, sometimes having lower expectations can work to our advantage and accepting our emotions as they come gives us a much better chance of feeling truly happy.
Re-evaluate your approach
As explained by the researchers, people tend to approach happiness in two different ways: