Is misery easier to learn about than happiness?

Thursday, 3 April, 2014

Happiness can be quite difficult to quantify, apparently. Might that be because one minute it’s there, the next it has gone?

Unhappiness, or misery, is another matter. It’s far easier to get a grasp on however. Perhaps then we could better understand human nature generally were more time devoted to studying our heavier moods, rather than our lighter emotions?

Misery, by contrast, is a marvellously rich source of data. Unhappy families are, as Tolstoy pointed out, much more varied than happy ones. And if happiness is elusive and subjective, there are plenty of objective sources of unhappiness: hunger, illness, the premature death of loved ones, family breakdown and so on. We can measure the ways these things change over time and compare that data to subjective emotional evidence. A whole new research programme suggests itself.

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When I’m 93, what will it be like?

Thursday, 27 February, 2014

Roger Angell, US author, and contributor to The New Yorker, writes about the day to day experiences of being ninety-three… that’s an impressive age:

I’ve endured a few knocks but missed worse. I know how lucky I am, and secretly tap wood, greet the day, and grab a sneaky pleasure from my survival at long odds. The pains and insults are bearable. My conversation may be full of holes and pauses, but I’ve learned to dispatch a private Apache scout ahead into the next sentence, the one coming up, to see if there are any vacant names or verbs in the landscape up there. If he sends back a warning, I’ll pause meaningfully, duh, until something else comes to mind.

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The happier we become, the more introverted we become?

Friday, 14 February, 2014

This has to be one for the books… the more contented people become, the more introverted they tend to become, at least according to Australian based research into the affect of well being on personality. While the finding surprised those analysing the data, it could be happier people feel less need to seek out new acquaintances.

Soto replicated past findings for the influence of personality on well-being. But more exciting is that he found higher well-being at the study start was associated with various changes to personality. Happy people tended to become more agreeable, conscientious, emotionally stable and introverted over time. This last finding – higher well-being leading to more introversion – was opposite to what was expected, given that higher extraversion usually leads to future happiness. Soto isn’t sure of the reason happier people appear to become more introverted, but he speculated it may be because they no longer need to seek out new relationships.

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Life in the big smoke’s fast lane may be life in the happy lane?

Monday, 3 February, 2014

While outsiders may not envy the fast paced lifestyle big city dwellers find themselves leading, it could be the inhabitants of large metropolitan areas are generally happier, in their frantic lives, than those residing in smaller centres where the pace of life is far slower:

So as you might expect, fast-moving people are associated with fast-moving economies. But does that faster life translate into greater happiness? In faster places (specifically, economically developed areas of North America, Western Europe, and Asia), people were more likely to smoke, less likely to take the time to help strangers in need, and more likely to die from coronary heart disease. Yet Levine and his colleagues found that residents in faster places tended to report feeling somewhat happier with their lives than those who lived in slower places. A city’s pace of life was indeed “significantly related” to the physical, social, and psychological well-being of its inhabitants.

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2014, it’s not all doom and gloom in the world…

Friday, 10 January, 2014

A counterbalance hopefully, similarities to 1914, and the possible prospect of a Great War like conflict notwithstanding, the outlook is not all despair. For instance, literacy rates are rising, diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis are on the wane, while poverty and hunger are in decline globally, among other positive trends.

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Get excited and carry on

Monday, 6 January, 2014

Rather than trying to calm down in an attempt to abate anxiety, say ahead of a driving test, public speaking engagement, or a job interview, the idea may instead be to go in the other direction, and become animated and excited:

“Anxiety is incredibly pervasive. People have a very strong intuition that trying to calm down is the best way to cope with their anxiety, but that can be very difficult and ineffective,” said study author Alison Wood Brooks, PhD, of Harvard Business School. “When people feel anxious and try to calm down, they are thinking about all the things that could go badly. When they are excited, they are thinking about how things could go well.”

The power of positive thinking?

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The key to happiness is being hard to reach on the phone, or is it?

Wednesday, 18 December, 2013

Some University of Michigan research, drawn from various consumer surveys that they conduct, appears to gauge an individuals level of happiness based on how easy, or difficult, they are to contact for said surveys.

Notably, easy-to-reach women are happier than easy-to-reach men, but hard-to-reach men are happier than hard-to-reach women, and conclusions of a survey could reverse with more attempted calls.

Ok, that’s it. I’m setting my phone to divert all calls straight to voicemail.

Via Marginal Revolution.

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Smoking, and the damage done

Tuesday, 17 December, 2013

Tobacco Body is a website created by the Cancer Society of Finland, that sets out, all to plainly, the toll that smoking can take, by comparing images of a non-smoker with a smoker.

Via Feel Desain.

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Experience instant and deferred gratification by being thankful

Thursday, 12 December, 2013

Offering gratitude is replete with all sorts of benefits. In fact I didn’t realise being thankful was such a positively powerful force:

Since the year 2000, psychological research has tied gratitude to a host of benefits: the tendency to feel more hopeful and optimistic about one’s own future, better coping mechanisms for dealing with adversity and stress, less instances of depression and addiction, exercising more, and even sleeping better.

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If being normal breaks the law we’d all have to turn ourselves in

Thursday, 31 October, 2013

What’s so bad then with a little egotism, women troubles, laziness, over action of the mind, political excitement, religious enthusiasm, superstition, greediness, grief, hard study, and business nerves (whatever that means exactly)?

It was enough, and I’m talking about just one item from the list, not necessarily more, for you to be committed to West Virginia’s Hospital for the Insane during the latter decades of the nineteenth century.

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