Can Happiness Create Unhappiness?
Dr. Rick Petronella
Do we really know what “happiness” means? We seem to have a growing obsession with happiness.
When people tend to place much importance on being happy, they tend to become more unhappy and depressed.
When I ask parents, “What do you most want for your children?”, most will say “happiness.” Unfortunately, recent research suggests that not only does a happiness-obsession decrease real happiness, this may also be increasing self-interest and decreasing care for others.
In Brené Brown’s TED Talks about her research on vulnerability she shares one important finding: If we suppress one emotion, we suppress them all. We cope with overload by dissociating; at a neurological level we dampen our emotional responses. This lets us “cope” with seriously difficult moments, but can also keep us in a survival mode. But there are significant costs to living in survival mode.
On a happiness quest people often reject difficult feelings, and often blame themselves for feeling something less than bliss.
Many of us fall into this trap. We are “supposed to be happy and in trying to be so, we push aside feelings that seem contrary to happiness. We suppress the uncomfortable feelings, thinking that will make room for happiness. But when we suppress any feeling, we suppress all feelings. Instead of increasing happiness, rejection of those ‘negative’ feelings just create emotional numbness.”
Even worse, this emotional favoritism makes it extremely difficult to move forward. Emotions serve to signal opportunity and threat and at the core, we have them to solve problems. We use mathematical data to solve math problems, we use emotional data to solve emotional problems. For example, if we decided only to use even numbers, we would have a hard time with algebra. The same thing happens with emotions and the algebra of relationships.
In striving for happiness, if we reject and devalue sadness, and a host of other valuable emotions paradoxically we lose those more painful emotions that could help us find a more meaningful and lasting happiness.
Your Sense Of Self-Worth and Happiness
People with heathy self-worth are usually full of life, successful in many ways, and are authentically happy.
Whereas, having low self-esteem can be the root of many downsides in both outward and inward behaviors. Individuals with lower self-worth are often more depressed, anxious, and stressed about situations. It affects both their mind and body. So, if you want to develop your self-worth and reap the benefits of having higher self-esteem, do the following:
Knowing who you are as a person, what you want in life, and what makes you happy are the three questions you should ask yourself. Self-worth comes from self-acknowledgment.
Acknowledge your strengths
Comparison is the thief of joy, and it can diminish your confidence and self-worth. Instead of looking for how others are better than you, try finding your strengths and tap into your positive and unique qualities. Write them down in a journal and read them out loud every day.
Put yourself first
A better sense of self-worth starts to form when you start making decisions for yourself. Making the right choices for yourself and putting your happiness first without thinking about what others want from you is essential for a content life.
Spend time alone
Spending time alone can help you reflect on your life and understand yourself better. The same way you spend time with people to know them better, is what you also need to do for yourself.
Silence the negative self-talk
We all have that inner-critic voice that hinders us from being grounded in our qualities and values. So you have to tame that critic with self-compassion. Address the negative self-talk and change positive.
Affirmation: I accept myself for who I am. My flaws, fears, and behaviors will not define my worth. I am worthy of love and respect despite how my life has been.
Some key differences between a Happy Life and a Meaningful Life.
Based on surveys about the meanings and causes of these two goals is a key conclusion:
Happiness seems intertwined with the benefits one receives from others. Meaningfulness instead is associated with the benefits that others receive from one- self.”
Wellbeing, or thriving, does not come not from chasing momentary happiness, but from deeply engaging in life. Happiness is an emotional state characterized by feelings of joy, satisfaction, contentment, and fulfillment. While happiness has many different definitions, it is often described as involving positive emotions and life satisfaction. The balance of emotions. Everyone experiences both positive and negative emotions, feelings, and moods. Happiness is generally linked to experiencing more positive feelings than negative ones. Life satisfaction relates to how satisfied you feel with different areas of your life including your relationships, work, achievements, and other things that you consider important. Meaningfulness is linked to doing things that touch the lives of others. So, if you are trying to improve your happiness, cultivating solid social connections is a great place to start. Consider deepening your existing relationships and explore ways to help those who cannot help themselves.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Top 10 Barriers that Keep Us From Happiness
Change can be scary as we feel new things, entertain different thoughts, perhaps leave old ways behind. Here are 10 obstacles that can hinder Happiness.
- Denial. It’s difficult to grow when you don’t see the need. Listen to the quiet voice inside and to what your loved ones are saying. Get the support you need to see the truth.
- Seeing yourself as a victim. If you’re always one-down, you can’t become the empowered person you are meant to be.
- Substance abuse. Whether you’re self-medicating or seeking escape, the problems just don’t go away without the willingness to face them.
- Self-loathing. Nothing banishes self-hatred faster than self-care. Choose in any moment the kindest path.
- Blame. If we always point the finger at another, we never see our own role.
- Defensiveness. This is a racket we swing against anything that suggests we might be at fault. Try to see “faults” as opportunities to grow.
- Fear. Acknowledge the frightened parts of yourself, praise your courage, and be gentle.
- Rage. Rage is a call for attention to our triggers, but sometimes we get stuck there. Accepting and working creatively with the feelings can help free you.
- Busyness. Constantly moving allows no time for the reflection that lays the foundation for self-growth.
- Unwillingness to admit error. As with defensiveness, if we stop judging “error” as wrong, an ever-expanding life awaits.