Washington: Everyone wants to be happy and they try every possible thing to find joy but even happiness can have a dark side, according to researchers.
They say that happiness shouldn`t be thought of as a universally good thing, and outline four ways in which this is the case. Indeed, not all types and degrees of happiness are equally good, and even pursuing happiness can make people feel worse.
People who want to feel happier can choose from a multitude of books that tell them how to do it. But setting a goal of happiness can backfire, said June Gruber of Yale University, who co- wrote the article with Iris Mauss of the University of Denver and Maya Tamir of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It``s one of the many downsides of happiness – people who strive for happiness may end up worse off than when they started.
The tools often suggested for making yourself happy aren`t necessarily bad—like taking time every day to think about things you`re 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 Gruber.
Too much happiness can also be a problem. Researchers have 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. Yet research by Gruber and her colleagues has found this inappropriate happiness also occurs in people with mania. Happiness also can mean being short on negative emotions—which have their place in life as well. Fear can keep you from taking unnecessary risks; guilt can help remind you to behave well toward others.