What is happiness anyway?
Today I’m publishing part of a really interesting article by Acacia Parks, PHD on the science of happiness. As a Happify.com Pioneer I’m using their tools and Acacia’s and other scientist’s learnings about happiness to build the habits that will make me a happier and more fulfilled me.
What is happiness? People have agonized over this question for centuries, but only recently has science begun to weigh in on the debate. Before I get into what the science has concluded, let me start by giving some answers to a somewhat easier question: what isn’t happiness?
Happiness is Not: Feeling Good All The Time
Skeptics have often asked whether a person who uses cocaine every day is “happy.” If feeling good all the time were our only requirement, then the answer would be “yes.” However, recent research suggests that an even-keeled mood is more psychologically healthy than a mood in which you achieve great heights of happiness regularly—after all, what goes up must come down.
Furthermore, when you ask people what makes their lives worth living, they rarely say anything about their mood. They are more likely to cite things that they find meaningful, such as their work or relationships. Recent research even suggests that if you focus too much on trying to feel good all the time, you’ll actually undermine your ability to feel good at all—in other words, no amount of feeling good will be satisfying to you, since what you expect (all the time) isn’t physically possible for most people.
Happiness is Not: Being Rich or Affording Everything You Want
While living below the poverty line certainly makes it hard to be happy, beyond that, money does not appear to buy happiness. Imagine you unexpectedly get a £10,000/year raise. While you would certainly be excited in the short term, it would only be a matter of time before your expectations change to fit your new budget. Before you know it, you’re just as happy as you were before the raise! …
You can read the rest of the article including more about what happiness is not, what happiness actually IS and find out more about the Happify programme at Happify.com
Acacia Parks, Ph.D is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Hiram College, where she teaches classes on the science of happiness. Her research program focuses on the efficacy of positive interventions, and the psychological and behavioral characteristics of individuals who use them. She received her doctoral degree from the University of Pennsylvania.