Many of us are involved in a daily quest for happiness and why not? Life is best when we’re happy. Chilling with loved ones, doing our favorite hobby, dancing the night away, etc. they’re the things that memories are made of. Yet, there’s a dark side to happiness and here we have 10 miserable facts about being happy:
Some People Cannot Ever Be Happy
Happiness is a product of our environment, right? Well, to some extent it is true that what we’re doing or surrounded by can have a huge impact on our happiness. But the bad news for some people is that our ability to be happy is a genetic thing and some people just don’t have the happiness gene. In fact people who are really happy have two copies of that gene. People without it are generally unhappy.
Holidays Don’t Make Us Happy
You’d think that taking a vacation pretty much anywhere would boost your happiness levels but this, according to the latest research at least, isn’t the case. In a study of more than 1,500 vacations they discovered that in the vast majority of cases holidays don’t make us happy. In fact, they have very little impact on our overall happiness. The only exception to this depressing rule is that people who take “very relaxing” breaks do report a boost in their happiness.
Other People Make Us Sad
Actually this isn’t 100% true but research from “The Great Brain Experiment” showed that what makes us unhappy or happy isn’t interacting with other people. It’s having more in our lives than the people around us – if all the people you know appear to be doing better than you; you’ll be miserable. Conversely, if they’re all having a lousy time – you’ll be flying high. Our happiness is often relative to the background of happiness we’re exposed to.
We’re Less Happy Than Ever Before
We live in a world of endless opportunity, technological marvels and ever improving health and that’s making us miserable. Back in the 1970s when they first started to measure the background level of happiness in America people were much happier than when they measured that level in 2010. In fact, happiness has been on a constant decline since they first measured it. Maybe it’s the measuring that affects happiness? Or maybe life really is less enjoyable when you have much more choice in front of you?
Some People Are Scared of Happiness
While most people say they’d embrace happiness; there are many cultures in which there’s a distinct (and measurable) fear of happiness. If you were to visit India or Hong Kong, for example, you’d find that that happiness holds cultural stigma and people aren’t very keen on the idea – they’re happy-phobic if you like. Research also finds that people who are in an Islamic culture are likely to perceive sadness and hardship as necessary to commune properly with God and thus they too become happiness averse. So while people want to be happy – many will avoid the opportunity to actually be happy.
Having a Third Child Depresses Parents
Kids are supposed to bring joy to life and to a marriage but when the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research took a close look at this premise – it’s only true up to a point. That point is the birth of a third sibling. Parents do receive a boost in happiness for their first and second children but the third? The parents’ happiness actually decreased following the birth of that child. We wonder if this has something to do with the additional drain on resources for many families when a third mouth to feed arrives?
Happy Places Have More Suicides
You’d think that a joyful place would have a low suicide rate but when happiness and suicide are correlated – it’s the happier places which have the highest suicide rates in Europe and America. There are other strange connections between demographic data and suicide and happiness too. The older a man gets – the more likely he is to be happy. Divorce makes us more prone to suicide but has very little impact, in the long-term, on happiness ratings.
Time is Money But Thinking That Way Makes You Sad
“Time is money.” It’s an old truism that’s designed to get people thinking about the scarcity of time in this life. You only get so much time and if you fritter it away, so the theory goes, you’re going to regret it when you come to the end of your life. This is quite possibly true but the Rotman School of Management in the University of Toronto discovered something quite startling. People, who believe “time is money” and who put a high value on their time as a result, are much more likely to be depressed than people who don’t think about it.
We Take Pleasure in Others’ Downfall
They call it “Schadenfreude” in German and it’s the delight that people take when they see someone else in misery when they feel that person deserved it. This sounds like a learned behavior rather than something that we do naturally but the University of Haifa proved otherwise. They showed that children as young as the age of 2 demonstrate the tendency to experience schadenfreude when their mothers were asked to take part in an experiment. That means we’re programmed as a species to take pleasure in the discomfort of others.
Pleasure and Happiness Aren’t The Same Thing
Pleasure is temporary – it’s based on things like eating a great meal or buying a new car. Feelings of pleasure wear off pretty quickly once the instant experience is over. While someone might be very pleased with a new car within a day or two they’ve forgotten that and it’s just a car.
Happiness is a longer term start and it requires effort to be happy. In fact the biggest contributory cause to being happy is being a nice person – constantly and consistently. It’s also quite possible to be happy without feeling any particular pleasure at any given moment.