Thursday, May 19, 2011

Happiness has a dark side

from Hindu  
Even happiness can have a dark side, according to the authors of a new review article published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
They say that happiness shouldn't be thought of as a universally good thing, and outline four ways in which this is the case. Indeed, not all types and degrees of happiness are equally good, and even pursuing happiness can make people feel worse.
But setting a goal of happiness can backfire, says June Gruber of Yale University, who co- wrote the article with Iris Mauss of the University of Denver and Maya Tamir of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It's one of the many downsides of happiness — people who strive for happiness may end up worse off than when they started.

The tools
The tools often suggested for making yourself happy aren't necessarily bad — like taking time every day to think about things you're happy about or grateful for, or setting up situations that are likely to make you happy. “But 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,” Gruber says.
For example, one study by Mauss and colleagues found that people who read a newspaper article extolling the value of happiness felt worse after watching a happy film than people who read a newspaper article that didn't mention happiness — presumably because they were disappointed they didn't feel happier. Too much happiness can also be a problem, according to a Yale University press release.
One study followed children from the 1920s to old age and found that those who died younger were rated as highly cheerful by their teachers. Researchers have found that people who are feeling extreme amounts of happiness may not think as creatively and also tend to take more risks.
For example, people who have mania, such as in bipolar disorder, have an excess degree of positive emotions that can lead them to take risks, like substance abuse, driving too fast, or spending their life savings. But even for people who don't have a psychiatric disorder, “too high of a degree of happiness can be bad,” Gruber says.
Another problem
Another problem is feeling happiness inappropriately; obviously, it is not healthy to feel happy when you see someone crying over the loss of a loved one or when you hear a friend was injured in a car crash. Yet the research has found this inappropriate happiness also occurs in people with mania.
Happiness also can mean being short on negative emotions—which have their place in life as well. Fear can keep you from taking unnecessary risks; guilt can help remind you to behave well toward others. Indeed, psychological scientists have discovered what appears to really increase happiness. “The strongest predictor of happiness is not money, or external recognition through success or fame,” Gruber says. “It's having meaningful social relationships.”


  1. Happiness is one of the emotions in human beings. So, what makes one happy may make other unhappy. In this sense, happiness is relatively good but it is not perfectly good in itself because it is conditional. Happiness is neither universally true and equally beneficial. It may be sometimes false as well. We can observe in our day-today activities. Happiness obviously, can have a dark side that is the irrational side of happiness.

    If someone is happy, we can interpret his/her happiness as the dominance of greater degree of clinging to something pleasant(phenomena,objects, events, attainment, and so on) rather than lesser degree of sadness or the like.

  2. All sense of happiness or sadness is linked to self image and to ego.The perspective of "Its all about me" pollutes vision, rendering it incapable of experiencing the simple pleasures life has to offer, for FREE.Comparison , judgment and cynical criticism makes the world a war zone. It's not that happiness is 'unavailable', but rather we are conditioned to be unavailable to it.

  3. Zarina Achilova
    enjoyed reading, plz keep sharing Kiran Ji