|Dishonesty, feelings of entitlement and creativity are often intertwined
||Creativity – the generation of novel and useful ideas, products, or solutions – is seen as a valuable trait for people and organizations to possess. Organizations harness it to develop innovative products, services, or processes, all of which promote profitability, long-term sustainability, and a competitive advantage. For the individual, research has shown that creativity is [...]The post Dishonesty, feelings of entitlement and creativity are often intertwined appeared first on PsyPost.
|Study: Reversing Alzheimer’s Memory Decline With Holistic Therapy
||A new UCLA study has found that when individuals with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) switched to a healthy diet and exercise program, their memory and cognitive function began to return in a dramatic way. In fact, six out of the 10 patients who had been struggling in their jobs, or had...
|Why Happiness is the Wrong Pursuit
||“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” –Helen Keller
Money doesn’t buy happiness. Obvious, right?
On some abstract level, we know that money and other outward signs of success won’t ultimately make us happy—perhaps because we know wealthy or famous or powerful people who are deeply unhappy—but on another level, we don’t really believe it… or at least we don’t believe it applies to us. Money might not buy other people happiness, we think, but I know I’d be happier living in a bigger house in a better neighborhood, driving a different car.
Why do we experience such a disconnect between what we know to be true in the abstract and what we believe is true for us?
I think a big part of the answer is that our choices are driven not by fame or fortune but by the pursuit of happiness itself—and we’re going about it in the wrong way, because we’re not sure what better alternatives exist. We buy things and experiences that might bring us some momentary feelings of delight and cheer. But will they truly bring us deeper feelings of happiness and satisfaction with our lives—the feeling that our life is, in the end, meaningful?
Psychologist Roy Baumeister and his colleagues have tried to distinguish between lives high on happiness and lives full of meaning. By their definition, happiness is a positive feeling or emotion. We say we are happy when things are going well for us, when we are feeling more positive emotions than negative ones, when we feel satisfied with our lives. The time span of happiness is typically short: a good day, a stellar semester, a great year. A wedding can bring us happiness in a moment or a weekend, for example, because of the fun and love involved, because of the good food and good music and good company.
But a wedding can also bring meaning to our lives. More than a balance sheet between positive and negative feelings, meaning is the symbolic value of a given activity or situation; it is our belief about what is happening. Our weddings are meaningful because they represent a life-long commitment to love and to nourishing someone else through thick and thin, sickness and health, happiness and sadness. The time frame of meaning is much longer than that of happiness—typically something is meaningful in the context of a life stage or lifetime.
Things really get interesting when we start to consider lives that are meaningful but not happy, and lives that are happy but not meaningful. Though only a tiny percentage of people experience one without the other (typically, meaning and happiness overlap), Baumeister and his colleagues’ study found that some people’s lives are filled with happiness but are low in meaning: These folks tend to feel good, at least for a limited amount of time. Conflicts with others are rare, as is adversity. They don’t worry about much. They tend to get what they want in life, but they give little, if anything, to others. They don’t think much about the past or the future, and they don’t tend to think deeply. They are often, as the researchers note, “shallow,” “self-absorbed,” and “selfish.” Perhaps some people would choose this state, but because no life is free from adversity—much of life’s difficulty and pain is not under our control—a happy life without meaning will not last.
In contrast, while some people leading deeply meaningful lives might, at any snapshot in time, be quite unhappy, unhappiness does not usually last in the presence of meaning. Think of Martin Luther King Jr. or Nelson Mandela or Ghandi as prisoners, probably at best extremely uncomfortable and at worse in profound physical and psychological pain. Researchers would certainly not find their lives happy: Their balance of positive to negative emotions would probably weigh heavily to the negative. Their satisfaction with life? Probably nil.
But great people make it clear that however unpleasant their lives might be in a given moment, their beliefs about their respective situations imbue their lives with profound meaning. When researchers look at unhappy people leading meaningful lives, they observe that often bad things have happened to them. Unhappy but fulfilled people tend to do a lot of deep thinking, and they spend a good deal of time reflecting on their struggles and stresses and challenges.
Compelling research indicates that the pursuit of happiness—when our definition of happiness is synonymous with pleasure and easy gratification—won’t ultimately bring us deeper feelings of fulfillment; it won’t allow us to live in our sweet spot. Although we claim that the “pursuit of happiness” is our inalienable right and the primary driver of the human race, we humans do better pursuing fulfillment and meaning—creating lives that generate the feeling that we matter.
And how do we do that? How, exactly do we pursue meaning rather than happiness? We establish our connection to something larger than ourselves; we give ourselves to others.
Fortunately, happiness tends to follow meaning. Meaningful activities generate positive emotions and deepen social connections, both of which increase our satisfaction with life. Indeed, much research shows an undeniable connection between happiness and generosity; the happiest people also tend to be the most altruistic.
When we help others in a meaningful way, for example, we are likely to feel compassion and love. We also often feel gratitude for our own situation, and maybe even pride in our ability to help. Perhaps most importantly, our connections to those we help get stronger, and strong social ties are the best predictor of happiness that we have.
In the end, the way to lead a joyful life is not to pursue happiness for ourselves, but to pursue it for others. The good life is not about getting what we want; it’s about having what it takes to give to others.
This holiday season, and in this coming New Year, what can you do that will bring joy to others? Pursue that, and happiness will follow.
|Parkinson's disease: Study focuses on regulation of dopamine levels
||A mechanism regulating dopamine levels in the brain has been revealed by a study on a mouse model of late onset Parkinson's disease. Using gene expression profiling, a method to measure the activity of thousands of genes, researchers investigated dopaminergic neurons in the midbrain, which are nerve cells that use dopamine to send signals to other nerve cells. These neurons are known to degenerate in Parkinson's disease.
|“The Doctor’s Note” Depression and your job
||I don’t know why they say, “Go to your doctor.” I’ve been in a hole the past week and need a doctors note to justify my absence at work which really isn’t happening and shows the stupidity of the modern age to expect someone with a mental illness to make it...
|4 Subtle Family Dynamics That Can Ruin Your Holidays
||Do you look forward to seeing your family at the holidays, but then often come away feeling vaguely disappointed, confused, angry or guilty? If this is true of you, then you need answers to what is truly going on in your family. And you need them quickly since The Holidays are...
|Lowering Holiday Expectations
||As children, the holidays are things that we remember for our entire lives. Looking back at my childhood, I recall special moments of sneaking down the stairs Christmas morning to peek at the tree. I remember Easter egg hunts and trick-or-treating with friends. These are the memories that make us...
|Is Your Loved One An Alcoholic?
||The label of ‘alcoholic’ feels like a dirty word. Having a drink is a normal part of life, and it can be threatening to think a loved one could be controlled by alcohol. So where is the line between controlled alcohol consumption and alcoholism? Perhaps you have a partner who loves to have a drink. […]
|Why Vocabulary and Facts Are So Important
||How do you know all the words without looking at the back of the cards? A fifth grade student was amazed that I knew every word on the American Heritage Dictionary’s Top 100 Words Every Middle Schooler Should Know list. She only recognized five. I assured her that soon she would also...
|Psychologists and Torture
||The Senate report on the CIA torture program revealed that psychologists played a key role in its design and execution. What role did the American Psychological Association play, and how will it respond to these revelations?
|6 Common Obstacles in Couples Therapy
||Couples therapy can help couples improve their relationship in many ways. For instance, it helps couples resolve conflict, learn how to communicate effectively, better understand each other, enhance their emotional connection and strengthen their bond. Naturally, couples may face obstacles in therapy that stall their progress. They may have inaccurate...
|Hepatitis C ruled out as cause of mental impairment in HIV patients
||Advances in treatment for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have made it possible for people with HIV to survive much longer. As they age, however, many experience impaired thinking, memory loss, mood swings and other evidence of impaired mental function. Secondary infection with the hepatitis C virus does not contribute to the mental impairments seen in many long-term survivors of HIV infection, a new study reveals.
|Codependent or Simply Dependent: What’s the Big Difference?
||Being codependent is hardly the same as simply being dependent. And in some ways it’s crucial that these two types of dependency be seen as distinct—as too often hasn’t been the case. Not, however, that codependent individuals aren’t dependent on others. So what's the peculiar dynamic operating in such relationships that makes them so tricky to understand?
|What Can You Do If You Dislike Being Touched?
||Some people have aversions to one or more types of normally accepted touch. If you find your aversion to touch interferes with your personal life, relationships, happiness, it's not too late to seek answers....
|Creative People With Schizophrenia
||As devastating as schizophrenia can be, a number of people with the mental illness lead active and creative lives. Some research even indicates the type of thinking that characterizes the disorder can facilitate creativity. Some of the possible symptoms include: “Hearing or seeing things that are not there (hallucinations); Isolation;...
|7 Great ADHD Gifts I’d Like to See
||‘Tis the season of giving. The perfect gift for me would be something to help me with the day-to-day circus that is life with ADHD. Something like, say, these fine (and fictitious) products. If only! Mood-detection gifts 1 ) Emoti-glasses Reading other people’s facial expressions is a crap shoot at...
|Medicating When It Is not Needed
||Medicating When It Is not Needed Creativity is a complex and vast construct that has been vital to the progress of human civilization and the development of human reasoning processes. Indeed, the immense array of creative endeavors encompasses the works...
|My Top Ten Favorite Parenting Resources
||I’m back! Sorry I disappeared for a while, folks. I’ve been busy with book talks for Parenting in the Present Moment, working on my next book about teaching mindfulness to children (New Harbinger, 2015), helping my big girl transition to kindergarten, my little girl transition to not being in the...
|CIA Torture Report: A Sad Day for Psychologists
||This week marks a low point for U.S. psychologists. Two psychologists were responsible for devising the CIA program that uses “enhanced interrogation techniques” — what the rest of the world calls torture — on certain detainees after 9/11. It also took the American Psychological Association years to clarify its ethical...
|Mental health problems still emerging, 2 years after Sandy Hook school shooting
||The scope of the psychological damage to children, parents
and others is becoming clear, and the need for treatment
is likely to persist a long time.