Sad people live longerDownside of being too happy
Being happy all the time is not always a good thing, as too much happiness can lead to an early death, a study has found.
It found that children rated as "highly cheerful" by teachers died younger than their less cheerful classmates.
People who are extremely happy tend to indulge in more risky behaviour such as taking drugs, drinking too much, driving too fast or even using up their life savings without thinking through the consequences of their actions.
And that's not the only downside to being overly joyous.
Writing in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, a team of psychologists say that people who are relentless in the pursuit of happiness can end up being worse off than when they started.
And people who read magazine articles with tips on how to be happy felt worse after watching a happy film, compared with those who were not given any mood boosting advice.
This was probably because they had higher expectations of being happy, and when this did not happen, they felt cheated and disappointed.
Negative emotions can also be a good thing, the researchers said. Fear may prevent someone from taking unnecessary risks, and guilt can help remind you to behave well toward others.
The researchers also revealed what really makes people happy.
"The strongest predictor of happiness is not money, or external recognition through success or fame," said study co-author, Professor June Gruber at Yale University. "It's having meaningful social relationships.
"That means the best way to increase your happiness is to stop worrying about being happy and instead divert your energy to nurturing the social bonds you have with other people.
If there's one thing you're going to focus on, focus on that. Let all the rest come as it will."
This article was published on Thu 19 May 2011
Image © Maridav - Fotolia.com
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