The search for happiness often turns out to be unsatisfactory for people who are especially eager to find it: it tends to make them even more miserable! At least two researchers came to this conclusion.
Everyone wants to be happy. However, if you bite too hard in search of ultimate happiness, you will become even more miserable, according to a study. The reason: The pursuit of happiness affects your perception of time and makes you more dissatisfied.
Perception of time affects feelings of happiness
Akyung Kim of Rutgers University and Sam Maglio of the University of Toronto conducted several online studies with up to 300 participants. It turns out that the deciding factor for happiness is one’s own standards. What the researchers noticed was that the part of the group who really wanted to be happier complained about not having enough time for activities and tracking goals that were likely to make them happy. On the other hand, those who actually described themselves as relatively happy did not feel that time was limited to happiness-making activities and their own goals.1
The pursuit of happiness makes time seem even rarer. Worse yet: the search for happiness even leads to the opposite effect, namely, reduced well-being. Interestingly, according to the study authors, it also depends on how you think about happiness and how you define happiness. This affects the way one judges time while striving for it.
Also interesting: How small changes can make us happier
If you want to be happy, don’t worry too much
It is clear that one cannot force happiness. However, there are ways and means that encourage at least the (regular) return of certain feelings of happiness. This includes spending time with loved ones and activities that force you to pay attention. You just have to be willing to take your time and worry less about happiness. The researchers also assert this: “By encouraging people to worry less about the pursuit of happiness than about an endless goal, successful interventions can lead to them having more time and therefore more happiness.”
Also interesting: eat yourself happy – that’s how it works!
What can you do to be happy?
What activities should one take the time now, so as not to think about the pursuit of happiness? In 2021, British researchers used data including information from 40,000 households in the UK to study the lifestyle factors that make people happy.2
On the other hand, the results show that the ability to control oneself leads to positive lifestyle decisions, which in turn affect well-being. On the other hand, physical exercise in particular and regular consumption of fruits and vegetables increases well-being and makes us happier. Everyone should find out for themselves if they can finish their pursuit of happiness with more exercise and a healthy diet. It is definitely worth a try!