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Chasing Happiness

<em>Edit Article</em> Chasing Happiness

Illustration Credit: Dolly by Julie Maren

Like the Buddhist notion of longing, individuals who place a high value on happiness are desperate to be happy. They say things like, “Happiness is extremely important to me,” or “My life is worthwhile to the extent I’m happy,” explains Iris Mauss, PhD, a University of California, Berkeley, associate professor of psychology. Such individuals suffer from a preoccupation with how they feel and always size up their enjoyment, whether it’s throwing a party or planting a garden.Perhaps not surprisingly, studies by Mauss have shown that putting such a high value on happiness has a number of drawbacks. In a typical experiment, some participants in the lab read a paragraph praising the benefits of happiness before carrying out a series of activities. Other participants read a paragraph lauding accurate judgments. The happiness participants end up placing a higher value on happiness, which in turn makes a positive activity carried out in the lab less enjoyable. The same set of findings also holds up outside of the lab. The more an individual values happiness in their everyday life, the less satisfied and the mor …

Jason Drwal is a freelance writer, blogger, psychologist, and avid practitioner of mindfulness.

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