And life in the US, despite all the cliff-hangers, is mostly happy…but that could be the problem: What they found is that as people place more importance on being happy, they become more unhappy and depressed. The pressure to be happy makes people less happy. Organizing your life around trying to become happier, making happiness the primary objective of life, gets in the way of actually becoming happy.
(Illustration found here).
Most importantly from a social perspective, the pursuit of happiness is associated with selfish behavior — being, as mentioned, a “taker” rather than a “giver.”
The psychologists give an evolutionary explanation for this: happiness is about drive reduction.
If you have a need or a desire — like hunger — you satisfy it, and that makes you happy.
People become happy, in other words, when they get what they want.
“Happy people get a lot of joy from receiving benefits from others while people leading meaningful lives get a lot of joy from giving to others,” explained Kathleen Vohs, one of the authors of the study, in a recent presentation at the University of Pennsylvania.
In other words, meaning transcends the self while happiness is all about giving the self what it wants.
People who have high meaning in their lives are more likely to help others in need.
“If anything, pure happiness is linked to not helping others in need,” the researchers write.
When I was growing up — long, long ago in a place so far away — my mother used to tell me, “I just want you to be happy.” This she was saying to a poetry-writing teenager highly-influenced by Edgar Allen Poe and hauling around an introverted personality.
Happy was being not sad.
Years and years of experience later, I’ve come to the conclusion that happiness in this world, in this life, is unattainable — an illusion of feelings that past quickly with another crisis of some sort.
Happiness is in the moment and is really based on gratification, like the first pull off a cold Yoo Hoo.
Quick and easy.
In Germany, happiness is for those who do their duty: People who pay higher taxes than other people tend to be more satisfied with their lives, according to a new paper written by six economists at the Institute for the Study of Labor in Bonn. The researchers analyzed 26 years of German panel data that asked about 25,000 people the question â€œHow satisfied are you with your life, all things considered?â€
After controlling for income, age, education and other variables that could influence someoneâ€™s level of well-being, the researchers found that people who paid more in taxes reported higher levels of happiness.
Meanwhile, in the US even wealth won’t save ya:
Americans are in worse health, die earlier and suffer from more disease than residents of other wealthy nations, according to a new study out Wednesday.
Some details were surprising: even wealthier Americans and those with health insurance were not as healthy as counterparts in other prosperous nations, it found.
And as a resident of the fractured Left Coast, this doesn’t make me happy at all — from the LA Times:
For decades, scientists have assumed the central portion of California’s San Andreas fault acts as a barrier that prevents a big quake in the southern part of the state from spreading to the north, and vice versa.
As a result, a mega-quake that could be felt from San Diego to San Francisco was widely considered impossible.
But that key fault segment might not serve as a barrier in all cases, researchers wrote Wednesday in the online edition of the journal Nature.
“The thinking has been that an earthquake could either occur on the southern San Andreas fault or on the northern San Andreas fault — that the creeping segment is separating it into two halves,” Lapusta said.
“But this study shows that if an earthquake penetrates that creeping area in a certain way, it could rupture through it.”
The San Andreas wouldn’t necessarily snap as the fault in the model did, she said: “Hopefully the creeping segment is such that it doesn’t have the propensity for weakness.
“But without examining further, you can’t say.”
Happy might just be ignorance, until the so-called other shoe drops, which is called reality.