The Happiness Paradox: 5 New Perspectives On How To Be Happy

The Happiness Paradox: 5 New Perspectives On How To Be Happy

via Forbes by Tracy Brower

Across cultures and societies, happiness is recognized as a desired state. Since ancient times, people have theorized about happiness, researched happiness and sought happiness. In the U.S. constitution, happiness is identified as a fundamental human right. In addition, according to a study published in the Psychological Bulletinhappiness is one of the most universally recognized human emotions. When we’re interacting with someone from a different culture, happiness is the emotion which is most familiar, and which unites us most powerfully.

The Happiness Paradox

But the paradox of happiness is if you pursue it, you’re less likely to achieve it. Like sand through your fingers at the beach, more fervent pursuit will result in less accomplishment of that joyful feeling. This has been demonstrated through research featured in the Journal of Experimental PsychologyImportantly, if you’re pursuing happiness, you’re necessarily focused on what you don’t have—and this can cause frustration, angst or dissatisfaction. In another study published in thePsychonomic Bulletin & Review, people who spend more energy seeking happiness tended to feel more time scarcity and pressure—and therefore less contentment. Better than chasing happiness is to focus on gratitude—appreciating all you can in your present circumstance—and to focus on making contributions to others. Generosity focuses you on your connections with the community and all you can offer—and this is also correlated with happiness.

You’ll Have Ups and Downs

A misnomer about happiness is that you can achieve it—like climbing the experience mountain and planting a happiness flag at the peak. But happiness isn’t something you can accomplish as an endgame. It’s not a steady state and it will always ebb and flow. According to research in the Journal of Experimental Psychology comparing over 2,300 people across eight countries, Western cultures tend to believe happiness should be rather constant. This can result in happiness inflation. You’re satisfied, and you adapt to that feeling and want to be even more pleased and so on. But being increasingly happy all the time isn’t realistic. True happiness isn’t a constant condition of euphoria. It will rise and fall, and you’ll experience pain and discontent. This is part of the human condition and you can learn from the down times and appreciate the ups even more in contrast to negative experiences. The concept of post traumatic growth suggests we can develop through trauma, and it’s possible to come through difficult times with positivity and resilience…

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