Posted by: abaybay123 | October 31, 2007

Can Happiness Actually Be Bad For You?

While reading through “The Situationist” blog, I was appealed by a post thar was titled “Don’t Worry, Don’t Be Happy, Either?” This topic immediately grabbed my attention because it is belived that everyone in this world shares the common goal of happiness. The pursuit of hapiness is as a result of one of the most desired qualities in todays society. However, according to a study done by University of Virginia psychology professor, Shigehero Oishi, a surplus of hapiness can lead to a surplus of depression.

Are you happy? Well don’t try to be happier; you might become less happy. That is the gist of a multi-cultural study published this month in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

The study by University of Virginia psychology professor Shigehiro Oishi and colleagues at three other institutions found that, on average, European-Americans claim to be happy in general – more happy than Asian-Americans or Koreans or Japanese – but are more easily made less happy by negative events, and recover at a slower rate from negative events, than their counterparts in Asia or with an Asian ancestry. On the other hand, Koreans, Japanese, and to a lesser extent, Asian-Americans, are less happy in general, but recover their emotional equilibrium more readily after a setback than European-Americans.

“We found that the more positive events a person has, the more they feel the effects of a negative event,” Oishi said. “People seem to dwell on the negative thing when they have a large number of good events in their life.

“It is like the person who is used to flying first class and becomes very annoyed if there is a half-hour delay. But the person who flies economy class accepts the delay in stride.”

The studies of this professor truly does bring up a valid point. The long time saying, “money can’t buy happiness”, has some relevancy to these studies. According to Oishi, people who are ultimately happy at times, experience large peeks of emotion. The professor’s example pertaining to the reactions of the variety of passangers when the flight is delayed successfully pertrays the theories behind this study. It is common for more wealthy people to become greedy and therfore when everything is not perfect, they are more greatly affected.

I have mixed feelings towards the theory of Professor Oishi. I agree with her in the fact that happier people often hold higher expectations. This can lead to much dissappoinment when the slightest thing goes wrong. There once happiness may convert into a depression that takes time to recover from. I disagree with the professors theories in that I feel the common American goal is the pursuit of hapiness. To simply advice people to try and not be too happy is simply astonishing to me. There are millions of people in this world that would die for the happiness that alot of us experience in our everyday lives. Therefore, I feel we shouldnt take anything for granted, and should conserve and strive for every bit of happiness we can.


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