13 Jun Can we have too much happiness?
Here at The Happiness Institute we're obviously fans of…happiness!
But to be perfectly honest, what we're really about is promoting the principles of positive psychology. And that's not just enjoying the good times it's also getting through the tough times; it's not just about "happiness" per se but it's really about thriving and flourishing and achieving "optimal human functioning".
So this means understanding where and when positive emotions are helpful, which is certainly much of the time, but also where and when accepting and moderating other forms of emotions is also helpful.
Which is why we're happy to share with you this interesting article titled "Can you have too much happiness" written by John Grohol from PsychCentral…
I can safely say that I think few of us struggle with having too much happiness. We turn to the happiness gurus to help us increase our happiness for a reason — who wouldn’t want to be happier? Pretty much all of us do.
For many of us, the pursuit of happiness is not only something we’ve grown up on, it’s something we’ve come to expect as a right. I mean, it’s right there in the Declaration of Independence!
But like everything in life, too much of a good thing is a bad thing. This includes the pursuit of happiness. Too much happiness can be just as detrimental in your life as not having enough.
That’s the finding anyway of Gruber and her colleagues (2011), in a recent review of the happiness research. Let’s see what they had to say.
Too Much Happiness
You can simply have too much happiness, the researchers found:
For instance, whereas moderate levels of positive emotions engender more creativity, high levels of positive emotions do not. Furthermore, people with extremely high positive-to-negative emotion ratios (i.e., >5:1) exhibit more rigid behavioral repertoires.
With respect to physical health, a high degree of parent- and teacher-rated “cheerfulness” is prospectively associated with a greater mortality risk. Furthermore, when experiencing very high degrees of positive emotion, some individuals are inclined to engage in riskier behaviors, such as alcohol consumption, binge eating, and drug use.
Their conclusion? “A higher degree of happiness is not always better and may actually be associated with undesirable and unintended outcomes when it exceeds a certain threshold.”
The researchers then move on to make a false comparison of the costs of too intense positive emotion, basically equating the state of mania with “too much happiness.” I’m not sure I entirely agree with this analogy, since happiness is a much broader concept while mania…
…hmmmm, interesting stuff!