The expectation of happiness plays a bad joke on us
A series of experiments conducted at Stanford University reveal why happiness is so elusive for many people. According to these psychologists, the key lies in our expectations.
These researchers analyzed how much helping others made people happy. In one of their experiments they recruited 92 people who were told about patients looking for bone marrow donors and asked them to do something to help them.
The key was that some of these were given an abstract objective: "to give these patients more hope" while the others a more specific one: "to increase the chances of these patients to find a bone marrow donor".
Could the simple change of purpose affect the level of satisfaction and happiness experienced by those who offer their help?
Psychologists found that, indeed, targeted goals tended to generate greater satisfaction and happiness than abstract ones, the results being evident in the rest of the experiments. Because?
These researchers argue that the more abstract our goals are, the less likely we are to feel happy, even if they are met. The point hinges on the fact that abstract goals often give rise to unrealistic expectations so that, in the end, we don't feel so satisfied and aren't happy.
Basically, it's like when we wait for a specific moment but when it finally comes it doesn't meet our expectations and we don't feel happy as expected. We've all probably experienced this sometime.
Therefore, it is recommended that if we want to be happy we must focus on specific goals, those little things that can make us feel good in the here and now. Happiness is not an abstract state, it is something that is achieved little by little.
Be happier little by little
1. Contact a friend. The greatest source of happiness, and also the most lasting, are interpersonal relationships. Spending time with the people we love is the best medicine for anxiety and depression, and also one of the most direct ways to find happiness. If you haven't seen a friend in a long time, contact them right away and arrange a meeting.
2. Get half an hour of aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise in particular, more than any other type of physical activity, generates a positive mood in the name of relaxation and the feeling of fullness. This happens because it stimulates the production of endorphins, the neurotransmitters that generate well-being and happiness. The good news is that you don't need a lot of time, half an hour a day is more than enough.
3. List three reasons why you feel grateful. If there is anything on which the various philosophical disciplines coincide, it is that gratitude is one of the keys to happiness. The simple act of thanking for what we have, instead of complaining about what we don't have, makes us feel lucky and peaceful, two fundamental aspects of being happy.
4. Imagine the best picture of yourself. Putting your mind to work to create the best image of yourself is a very positive activity. In fact, it allows you to face the day in a more optimistic perspective by increasing your self-confidence. Let's not forget that one of the main obstacles preventing us from being happy are negative thoughts and beliefs about ourselves.
5. Set yourself a goal that you can achieve throughout the day. Achieving goals makes us feel empowered, generates a sense of self-satisfaction, and increases confidence in our abilities. Ultimately, if we cultivate these feelings we will also be able to be happier. Therefore, every day, plan a different goal and do everything to achieve it. At the end of the day you will feel satisfied and happier.
Remember that the secret is to understand that happiness is not a goal, it is a path.