According to a recent article, certain types of happiness can have negative emotional consequences. Researchers state that striving for happiness by focusing on happy things or being thankful may backfire. Although the techniques are not bad, June Gruber, co-author from Yale says, “…when you’re doing it with the motivation or expectation that these things ought to make you happy, that can lead to disappointment and decreased happiness.” Iris Mauss of the University of Denver conducted a study in which people who read or watched something that celebrated happiness felt worse than people who viewed something that never produced to happiness at all. The researchers suggest that when people expect to feel better and don’t, they may experience more negative emotions as a result of feeling as if they had failed.
Another study followed people from childhood until death and discovered that those who died at a younger age were most often described as being happy and cheerful. Previous research has suggested that people who experience extreme happiness, such as people with bipolar who experience manic episodes, often engage in riskier behavior and are less creative than their less happy counterparts.
This new research also identified inappropriate happiness, which can be found in those people experiencing manic episodes, can also be problematic. Reacting excitedly or positively to traumatic news, for instance, can create a negative situation. Additionally, absence of negative emotions, such as fear or guilt, can cause someone to behave in ways that harm themselves or others. In a related article, Gruber explains that psychology has identified one factor that is most likely to influence a person’s happiness. She says, “The strongest predictor of happiness is not money, or external recognition through success or fame. It’s having meaningful social relationships.” She adds, “If there’s one thing you’re going to focus on, focus on that. Let all the rest come as it will.”
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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