Do you ever dampen your positive emotions?

Do you ever dampen your positive emotions?

If you're going to get through the tough times then you might as well enjoy the good times!

Do you ever dampen down positive emotions? Do you ever "manage" (read minimise) your happiness? Have you ever discounted positives in your life or brushed away compliments? 

If so, you're not doing yourself or others any favours. Read this interesting article, from Chris Peterson (one of the leaders in the science of happiness) and give it some serious consideration…

Savoring and Dampening Positive Feelings

Dampening entails snatching hedonic defeat from the jaws of victory.

Published on May 3, 2011 by Christopher Peterson, Ph.D. in The Good Life

I have written several entries here on savoring: the strategies people use to enhance and sustain their positive feelings. It is clear that savoring contributes to well-being, in the moment and thereafter. Different strategies are available, including sharing positive experiences with others, building memories (e.g., taking photographs or souvenirs), and immersing one's self in the experience. It is also clear that people vary in their spontaneous use of these strategies (Bryant, 2003). Some of us do a lot of savoring, and some of us do very little – with predictable effects on our life satisfaction and happiness. And some of us even show what is called dampening, dealing with a positive feeling by trying to feel worse. Dampening entails snatching hedonic defeat, as it were, from the jaws of victory (Langston, 1994).

Why would anyone dampen a positive feeling? I can think of reasons – not wanting to show off to others, not wanting to get one's hopes up that the future will be as wonderful as the present, and so on (cf. Parrott, 1993). But a paper I just read suggests another reason, and this one is supported by a series of research studies and thus deserves to be taken more seriously than my mere speculation (Wood, Heimpel, & Michela, 2003).

It turns out that someone's self-esteem influences tendencies to savor versus dampen a positive feeling.

Using a variety of methods – surveys and experiments – researchers at the University of Waterloo showed that those with higher self-esteem savor positive feelings by using one or more of the strategies for enhancing and sustaining good moods. In contrast, those with lower self-esteem dampen positive feelings by deliberately muting them or distracting themselves from them. These patterns held even when the personality traits of extraversion and neuroticism were measured and statistically controlled. The psychologically rich become richer.

Using other data obtained in their studies, the researchers argued that these effects occurred because people are motivated to sustain a consistent view of themselves. Those with higher self-esteem – people who like and value themselves – see happiness as a state consistent with who they are, and thus they savor their good feelings. Those with lower self-esteem – people who neither like nor value themselves – analogously see unhappiness as a state consistent with who they are, and thus they dampen their good feelings.

If this interpretation is correct, then consistency is a more potent influence on feelings than is hedonism, a conclusion with interesting implications.

I have always thought that some people are unhappy because they do not know how to be otherwise…

…read the full and original article HERE

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