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Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Force Yourself to Be Happy

Everyone wants to be happy. Whether you want to ace that exam, land a promotion, buy that house, or to be with your loved one, we all pursue our dreams and goals since we know it could make us feel happy and contented.

But a recent survey revealed that most of us are trying too hard to be happy, which, could end up with us being more miserable. Why is this so? Let us read what the spiritual coaches and experts have to say.

The Claim

According to the recent paper published in Emotion, the researchers found that overemphasizing happiness cause people to suffer and be miserable more as they became obsessed with failure or when dealing with negative emotions. The inability to address these frustrations when things don’t go according to our way (which will inevitably will happen in our life) causing them to bear more stress in the long run.

According to social psychologist Brock Bastian at the University of Melbourne, while happiness is a good thing, setting it as a standard of success tends to bring unpleasant feelings, especially in dealing with failures.

Their research paper also suggests how people’s feelings change when they respond to any negative emotions or unpleasant experiences, leading them to feel worse and start questioning their worth once they can’t achieve the things that make them happy.

The Study

The researchers conducted two separate experiments on two groups of Australian psychology students. The first group was asked to solve 35 anagrams in just 3 minutes. Thirty-nine students completed the task while being secluded in a room adorned with motivational books, notes, and posters. The proctor in-charged also spoke with the students cheerfully and reminded them of the importance of happiness.

Unbeknownst to the participants, the researchers put 15 unsolvable anagrams to determine their reaction when faced with difficulty.

Meanwhile, another thirty-nine students also completed the test but this time, they were placed in a neutral room with a neutral proctor. Lastly, a group of 38 students completed a neutral task and were secluded in a room that emphasized happiness above all others.

The Findings

After the task, the researchers conducted a breathing exercise for all student and asked them questions about what they thought of the experiment that recently took place. The first two groups responded well while the latter group, the ones placed in the “happiness room” thought more about their failures of not solving all of the anagrams. The negative thoughts and feelings they had also lingered with them.

In another experiment, the researchers gathered around 200 American adults and asked them how often they experienced negative emotions, and how they thought the society perceives those unpleasant thoughts and feelings. Most of the participants reveal they felt like society expects and requires them to be happy. They got frowned at the moment they feel negative thoughts and emotions like anxiety or depression. This caused them to hide their emotions under a happy smile or face to keep up with the societies’ standards.

The Acceptance of Negative Emotions

Instead of shying away from these unpleasant feelings, Bastian says society should be sensitive enough to accept that feeling unhappy is normal, healthy, and part of our life cycles. According to him, it’s okay if you fail, you don’t need to reprimand yourself or look down in disappointment if someone doesn’t do well.

Instead, one must learn to embrace their mistakes and accept it. Instead of dwelling on your failure, miseries, and challenges you face, you should celebrate your success instead since even if you’re not close to your goal yet, you have gone far from your starting point. According to Bastian, everyone should also celebrate their progress and the lessons they learned as they embark on the journey to pursue their happiness.

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