Is Our Obsession with Happiness Making us Less Happy?

Organising your life specifically around trying to become happier, making happiness the primary objective of life, gets in the way of actually being happy. People generally like to feel happy, but the truth is – achieving a state of happiness takes time and effort.

Indeed, there is more to life than being happy all the time. Having a sense of meaning may be the essential ingredient of a life well lived. In the end, what really matters is ‘doing good’, more than ‘feeling good’.

  • Stay Connected to Real Connections
    Having a booming social life with a lot of friends and acquaintances may keep you happy, but it’s the deeper relationships that’ll truly add meaning to your life. The deeper relationships encourage you to think of the bigger picture, not just small talk. Spending time with your closed ones may sometimes be tough as well, but the rewards are worth it.
  • Face the stress
    Often, the things that add the most meaning to your life, like – a high pressure job, raising kids or caring for your loved one – could be the ones that add the most stress to your day. However, it’s said that the biggest challenges in life lead to the biggest gains at the end. Running away from stress is not a solution. The key is to find healthy solutions (such as exercising or meditation) to dealing with them and it will help you create a bigger purpose in the long run.
  • To Take, You Should Also Give
    While happiness is often experienced by the taker, only being the receiver of happiness could make you feel worse and self centered too. By being a giver, you’re ultimately doing something positive for both parties involved. Unsurprisingly, doing things to help others will help add meaning to your life.
  • Look for Engagement Look for work that taps into optimal anxiety, a state in which you’re slightly out of your comfort zone and feel challenged, but not so much that you’re overwhelmed. If a project or new job scares you a little, it is probably a good sign that you should do it. To sum it up, for you to get enjoyment from anything, you have to be engaged first.

What influences the state of happiness ?

When you’re desperately pursuing happiness, you lose sight of what being happy means. Scientific studies say that there are a few factors that affect your happiness. Here are a few: 

  • Sleep
    It is impossible to enjoy anything when you’re exhausted. What’s the point of landing tickets to your favorite show, when you’d be half asleep during the show? According to the National Sleep Foundation, an acceptable amount of sleep for the majority of the adult population is 7.31 hrs. 
  • Social Interaction
    Human interaction and relationships influence happiness. A cross- sectional study in the Iranian youth found that even small interactions with your closed ones at a coffee shop can impact emotional well-being and help raise your happiness score. 
  • Exercise
    Physical activity on a regular basis helps you tackle depression and stress in your daily life. A systematic review in the Journal of Happiness calculates the odds that an active person would be happier than an inactive person. In fact, more than half (52%) of the respondents who are happy also claimed to be ‘very active’. 


Happiness In A Nutshell
Happiness without meaning characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life; in which things go well, needs and desire are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided.

Written by

Cheryl Toh

Last updated on

December 11th 2019, 2:18 pm

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