Happiness also has a dark side

Happiness also has a dark side

The tools often suggested for making yourself happy aren’t necessarily bad—like taking time every day to think about things you are 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,” said June Gruber of Yale University, who co-authored the research with Iris Mauss of the University of Denver and Maya Tamir of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

It is one of the many downsides of happiness—people who strive for happiness may end up worse off than when they started, Gruber said. Too much happiness can also be a problem, said the researchers, citing a study that followed children from the 1920s to old age and found that those who died younger were rated as highly cheerful by their teachers.

The researchers also 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 said. Another problem is feeling happiness inappropriately; it’s 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.

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