How Too Much Happiness Makes You Unhappy

Constantly making happiness your explicit goal is a recipe for unhappiness, say psychologists. Rather, enjoy the moment you are in without too much preparation or preoccupation. 

What's the Latest Development?

The more happiness the better, right? Not exactly. Psychologists say that relentlessly seeking happiness is a recipe for loneliness and dissatisfaction. After studying diary entries of 206 Americans, psychologist Iris Mauss found that "those to whom being happy was extremely important felt lonelier after experiencing a stressful event than those who didn’t make such a big deal of wanting to be cheerful." Her advice is to seek and accept a healthy balance between happy and unhappy feelings, perhaps experiencing three positive emotions for every one negative emotion. 

What's the Big Idea?

Contrary to our modern drive for self-satisfaction, being too happy turns out to have a host of negative consequences. People flooded with positive emotion are less likely to be objective, succumbing to racial and sexual stereotypes more easily. They are more easily deceived, partially losing the ability to pick up on the biological cues of dishonesty. "High levels of positive feelings predict risk-taking behaviors, excess alcohol and drug consumption, binge eating, and may lead us to neglect threats," said June Gruber, a professor of psychology at Yale University. 

Photo credit:

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less

If you want to spot a narcissist, look at the eyebrows

Bushier eyebrows are associated with higher levels of narcissism, according to new research.

Big Think illustration / Actor Peter Gallagher attends the 24th and final 'A Night at Sardi's' to benefit the Alzheimer's Association at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 9, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
  • Science has provided an excellent clue for identifying the narcissists among us.
  • Eyebrows are crucial to recognizing identities.
  • The study provides insight into how we process faces and our latent ability to detect toxic people.
Keep reading Show less

Why are women more religious than men? Because men are more willing to take risks.

It's one factor that can help explain the religiosity gap.

Photo credit: Alina Strong on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • Sociologists have long observed a gap between the religiosity of men and women.
  • A recent study used data from several national surveys to compare religiosity, risk-taking preferences and demographic information among more than 20,000 American adolescents.
  • The results suggest that risk-taking preferences might partly explain the gender differences in religiosity.
Keep reading Show less