It’s OK to Feel Joy Right Now

It’s OK to Feel Joy Right Now

via the NY Times by A C Shilton

The birds are chirping, a warm breeze is blowing and some of your friends are getting vaccinated. After a year of anxiety and stress, many of us are rediscovering what optimism feels like. And the good news about an increase in available vaccines could not come at a more joyous time.

Spring is the season of optimism. With it comes more natural light and warm weather, both great mood boosters, and some of our most hopeful religious holidays: Easter, Passover, the Hindu festival of Holi and Nowruz, the Persian new year that celebrates springtime and renewal.

But if you’re expecting your happiness to skyrocket the moment we finish off this pandemic once and for all, think again.

Yes, receiving your vaccine shot, daydreaming about intimate dinner parties or those first hugs with grandchildren may give you a jolt of joy, but euphoria, unfortunately, tends to be fleeting.

Blame “hedonic adaptation,” said Rhea Owens, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota Duluth, who conducts research on positive psychology interventions in counseling practices. When good (or bad) things happen, we feel an initial surge or dip in our overall happiness levels. Hedonic adaptation means that, over time, we settle back into wherever we were happiness-wise before that good or bad event happened. Even if the good thing — like getting your dream job — is continuing.

To maintain those positive feelings, you are going to need to work on it a bit. Thank evolution.

“Our brains developed biologically for survival, not happiness,” said Sanjay Kumar, the director of contemplative practices and well-being at the Fish Interfaith Center at Chapman University in Orange, Calif. The human mind, he added, “prioritizes negative experiences to be remembered more strongly than positive ones, as a way for us to anticipate potential threats in our environment.”

While that’s good for evolution, excessive worry isn’t anyone’s idea of a happy state of mind.

Ultimately, happiness is more of a daily practice than anything else, Dr. Kumar said. Which is why getting your coronavirus shot may make you happy for a moment, but won’t bring you long-term happiness. The good news is that researchers have found steps that will (and no needles are required). Even better: these strategies work perfectly in a moment like this — when hope is on the horizon, but the path toward it isn’t clear…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE