Happiness…feeling good or doing good?

Happiness…feeling good or doing good?

Here's another interesting article from Psychology Today by Nicholas Kardaras

Oh, yeah. That decadent all-the-toppings Ben and Jerry's double fudge brownie is really going to taste good as you let it go from spoon to joy-spot. Mmm-hmmm. Yes indeed, that chocolaty good-taste is really going to make you feel very, very nice-but for how long? More importantly, will the feel-good effects of that yummy ice cream make you happy? Really, the bigger question is does anything that makes a person feel good-from chocolate, to sex to lazy naps on a Sunday afternoon-make a person happy? And I mean really feel-it-in your-heart-and-soul happy? Dr. Todd Kashden, a clinical psychologist and researcher at George Mason University certainly doesn't think so.

Kashden has spent most of his professional life teaching, researching and exploring what makes people happy. In his positive psychology class "The Science of Well Being", Professor Kashdan and his students explored "feeling good" versus "doing good" as two possible variables in the personal happiness equation. What did they find? The short answer: the happiness that comes with "feeling good" activities is fleeting; but "doing good" happiness, now, that's another story. The sense of well-being that accompanies "esteemable" (i.e. volunteer work; acts of kindness or service, etc.) has a significantly longer shelf-life. Kashden's students confirmed this experientially in "do good" and "feel good" assignments; they discovered that, yes, while the sex, drugs and rock and roll "feel good' assignments felt, well, "good"-they didn't lead to a lasting happiness.

As anyone who's ever indulged in a feel-good vice (guilty as charged) understands all too well, the euphoria of the initial feel-good experience leads to a hunger and craving for more-an addictive cycle that psychologists call "the hedonic treadmill". And, as any addict or Buddhist can attest-craving is not the first word that usually comes to mind when we think of happiness or personal well-being.

Think about it in relation to that double-fudge brownie ice cream; you may have told yourself that your sensible diet will only permit three spoonfuls-and no more. Yet after that that third spoonful-while your dopamine pleasure centers of your brain are lighting up like a 4th of July fireworks extravaganza-what do you feel? If you're craving a fourth spoonful, odds are that you aren't exactly what the social scientists might call "happy".

Now let's briefly look at "doing good"…

…well, actually, if you want to read the full and original article CLICK HERE

And one final comment, as much as I like and agree with this article I'd like to point out that feeling good and doing good are not mutually exclusive. In fact I think there's good evidence to argue that if you feel good you're more likely to do good (and vice versa). Happiness comes from finding the balance between taking care of oneself and taking care of others (but happiness is neither excessive selfishness or selflessness). 

What do you think? Please post your thoughts and comments HERE