Monday, 22 Oct, 2007 Science

Researchers Suggest: More Happiness Results in More Suffering


According to the latest multi-cultural study, people who feel happy in general shouldn't try to become even happier as in fact they risk to become less happy.

The study conducted by psychology professor Shigehiro Oishi (University of Virginia) and his colleagues from three other institutions suggests that on average, European-Americans feel happy in general. They feel more happy than Asian-Americans, Japanese or Koreans. However, European-Americans loose their happiness more easily when influenced by negative factors and need more time to recover than those living in Asia or having an Asian ancestry.

The study also showed that Koreans, Japanese, and Asian-Americans, feel less happy in general, but it's easier for them to come back to their emotional equilibrium after suffering a setback.

The researchers made the conclusion that the more positive events we have, the more we become fragile to negative events. We just find ourselves dwelling on the negative event when we have a lot of positive things in our life. Professor Shigehiro Oishi made an interesting comparison - he said it is the same as when a person is used to flying first class and feels really annoyed because of a half-hour delay. Yet, a person who usually flies economy class accepts the delay easily.

Oishi himself grew up in Japan and moved to the USA at the age of 23. It was really interesting for the psychologist to compare how people from East Asia and the United States respond to the daily positive and negative events in their life.

Mr. Oishi and his colleagues conducted a three-week survey with more than 350 college students in Korea, Japan, and the United States. The students were asked to report every day their general state of life satisfaction or dissatisfaction, and the number of positive and negative events they experienced during the course of every day.

The research suggested that the European-Americans required nearly two positive events to come back to their normal happiness level after a negative event, while the Koreans, Japanese and Asian-Americans generally required only one positive event to recover from each negative event.

As the conclusion, people who get accustomed to life full of a great number of happy events are more likely to suffer deeply from a negative situation than those who know how to accept the bad with the good. When negative events so strongly effect a person in the midst of numerous positive events, he/she finds it difficult to be extremely happy.

People who feel extreme happiness after buying a new house, or getting married, are quickly disillusioned by the necessary payments or the daily spats. They have to face a problem of ratio, or perspective.

According to Mr. Oishi and his colleagues, it's good to have a positive perspective, but we must learn how to switch our mindset to be able to accept the negative facts of our daily life, then it will be easier for us to maintain a comfortable level of satisfaction.

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