Psychology Columnist Suggests We Might Be Searching Too Hard to Find Happiness

In a recent article in Psychology Today columnist Carlin Flora suggests most of us might never reach happiness if we try too hard to find it. He comes to this apparent paradox citing several authors of self-help books that point out in various ways that happiness, as has been oft noted, is in the eye of the beholder.

But it's also in you, much more so than in any book a psychologist is peddling.

Flora points out that if you're doing reasonably well financially, meaning you don't have to scrape to pay the rent or mortgage each month, than your own happiness, as has been espoused by many before him have pointed out, is in your own hands. Rather than simply sitting there asking yourself occasionally if you're happy, he suggests people first consider what they mean by happy, as some might say happiness is little more than the absence of unhappiness, while others might believe that to be happy, means to feel some sort of elation all the time. Once you figure out what you believe happiness to be, he suggests you might then try to redefine it for yourself if your definition is beyond reasonable measure. If you think happiness means feeling joy all the time, for example, you will assuredly be setting yourself up for failure if you set true happiness for yourself as your goal. Instead, you might want to consider looking a little deeper, as many other psychologists suggest, to see if perhaps there isn't some underlying happiness that you could aspire to, such as finding a feeling of contentment with your job, spouse, family, life, etc.

Flora also points out that though some may truly be born with a sunny disposition, we can't all be so lucky, which means, if we want to be happy, whether with ourselves or our lives, or just in general, we probably ought to do some things to make it happen; otherwise, it just might not. The things people can do to encourage their own happiness vary of course, but most can be grouped into categories, such as giving of yourself to others; striving for some sort of goal that you really would like to achieve; allowing the downers in life to contrast with those that are more uplifting so as to give something with which to compare; arranging your life so you're not in competition with others, etc.

Which all means in the end of course, that if you want to be happy, stop buying self-help books and reading articles that tell you how, and get up off your duff and make the kinds of changes in your life that will give you a sense of happiness; the kind that fits your own description of it.

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