Pursue Happiness— Just Not Too Much

And don't pursue it too hard, either: studies
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2012 10:48 AM CDT
Updated Apr 7, 2012 7:00 AM CDT
Pursue Happiness— Just Not Too Much
Too much happiness actually can backfire, studies show.   (Shutterstock)

Happiness is a good thing … unless you have too much of it, in which case it can actually make you unhappy. If you're too happy, studies have shown, you may also be gullible, selfish, less creative, or less successful, the Washington Post reports. "Research indicates that very high levels of positive feelings predict risk-taking behaviors, excess alcohol and drug consumption, binge eating, and may lead us to neglect threats," says one psychology professor. Some specifics from happiness studies:

  • Happiness can hold you back professionally: One analysis found that people who were more satisfied with their lives at a younger age quit school earlier and ultimately made less money than those who hadn't been quite as content in their younger years, possibly because happiness leads people to feel satisfied with their jobs and therefore less motivated to switch careers or further their education.
  • Happiness can lead you to stereotype others: Other studies have found that participants who are induced to feel happy are more likely to make stereotypic judgment calls (finding "Juan" guilty but not "John," or deeming a paper supposedly written by a male to be better than an identical paper written by a female).
And the more you try to be happy, the worse you may feel, other studies have shown. Says another psychology professor, "It’s a delicate balance between savoring experiences, being able to appreciate, say, a glass of good wine, and excessively being preoccupied with 'Am I having fun yet?'" (More happiness stories.)

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