Happiness research

Creating happiness

Let's put aside conception for a moment, and think more generally about happiness.

We tend to think that the focus of psychology is to address problems. For example, techniques for overcoming depression or anxiety. However, social scientists also study happiness. What is it that makes people happy? I find this to be a fascinating area of research because the findings are often counterintuitive. The following video is a little long (about 20 minutes), but is a good introduction to some recent discoveries.

As explained in the video, people are not very good at predicting what will lead to future happiness. We typically think "If I get what I want I will be happy – otherwise I will be unhappy". However, this is not the case. The speaker is careful to point out that not all outcomes are equal. We are allowed to have hopes and desires. However, sometimes life isn't fair. Terrible tragedies occur, and sometimes we don't get what we want. One of the main messages of the video is that when we don't get what we want, the outcome usually isn't as bad as we think it will be. We are more resilient than we give ourselves credit for.

Thinking back to having a child, you may dread the idea of a childless future. You may not be able to imagine ever being happy. There is no doubt there would be difficult times, but it is wrong to think that you would never be happy.