So you've had a good day. Things generally are going well in your life. You have a good partner, your family is healthy, you're successful in your career. On paper, everything looks great. So why do you not feel complete happiness? Sure, there are moments you feel happy, but then boredom or stress sets in. Or something makes you sad. Or maybe you're just annoyed when your spouse leaves the top off the peanut butter jar. Whatever it is, you've realized that on any given day, you seem to only get a few tastes of happiness. The rest of the time is spent chasing it. Well, you're not alone. According to listverse.com there are reasons why we all seem to be on a quest for happiness without truly achieving it. Read below to find out why your overall happiness may be far out of reach.
Our genes are responsible for a lot and could be contributing to how happy we really are capable of being. Researchers at the London School of Economics and Political Science isolated a specific gene that seemed to be linked to a person's likelihood of being happy or miserable. After speaking to more than 2,500 Americans, they found that those who had inherited two long versions of the gene were more likely to be happy. Of the 40 per cent who said they were happy with their lives, more than 35 per cent had two long versions of the gene 5-HTT. The gene, which is linked to the body's production of serotonin, also seems to impact a person's ability to focus on the good things in life.
2. Happy Decline
When you look at technology and how far society has come in recent years, you would think everyone would be happy. However, it seems to be quite the opposite. A study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that teenagers and young adults were generally happy but, as they reached their thirties, that happiness declined, perhaps because teens today have unrealistic expectations about life. The study found that 64 percent of high school students in 2015 expected to be a manager or in a successful career by the time they were 30, however only about 18 percent of people actually attain that goal.
We all think that kids will enrich our lives and make us undeniably happy. While that is true in many cases, there are also times when kids make life hard. Studies suggest that parents seem happy with the birth of their first and second child but when they had a third, there was a downward spiral in happiness. Researchers also found that age had a lot to do with the happiness surrounding child birth. Those that were the most unhappy were people who had children when they were between 18 and 22. Those between 23 and 34 were the most happy – as long as they didn't have a third child.
Whether we like to admit it or not, most of us feel good when something bad happens to someone we hate. Schadenfreude is a pretty crazy emotion – that dislike of someone coupled with the happiness we feel when we see someone else fail or suffer misfortune. And it happens from a very young age. In fact, researchers have found that children as young as two years old have been found to demonstrate that they can feel this kind of happiness that relies on crushing the happiness of others.
5. Pleasure vs. Happiness
Think about the last time you did something to make yourself happy – did you go for a delicious meal? How about splurging on that expensive outfit you saw at the mall? Well, it's possible you're actually not making yourself happy at all. Instead, you're just feeling pleasure, which is not the same thing. It is simply a momentary sense of wellbeing that won't last. According to some psychologists, pleasure can be a dangerous thing, kind of like an addiction. Soon you will find yourself spending more money or eating out more just to make you feel happy. Instead, professionals say you should focus on who you are. Give rather than receive. Treat others well and just be a good person. This type of happiness will exist much longer than a new pair of shoes.
Time is money, right? Well, that phrase has made almost everyone unhappy because the more time we spend working and making money is less time we spend being happy. When we do get time off work we tend to hurry through it instead of truly enjoying it. The Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto found that people are so consumed by the notion that time equals money, that we are too impatient to enjoy the things that should make us happy. Fast food also has a negative impact on our ability to relax. One study found that exposure to fast food restaurants lessened people's ability to actually enjoy the food, likely because everything is so rushed. One Google study found that Internet loading times only need to differ by 250 milliseconds to make the difference between us staying on a page or leaving to search something else. Time seems to be on everyone's mind, making it almost impossible to enjoy any hassle free, relaxing time we may get.
7. Happiness Equals Fear
According to research by New Zealand's Victoria University of Wellington, most of us actually don't even want happiness. In fact, it found we want unhappiness. That's because for some people, the idea of being happy means there is something bad waiting for us. This feeling can lead to a mental illness, particularly anxiety. Just one happy experience that is ruined by something bad happening afterwards is enough to make a person think happiness is a curse. For others, there is a stigma attached to being too happy. It might suggest that someone is oblivious to the problems in the world or that they are fine with the existing status quo.
Planning your dream vacation is generally on the top of everyone's list of things that will make them happy. But, according to research published in Applied Research in Quality of Life, it doesn't work. The study followed 1,530 people over the course of 32 weeks with 974 of the people going on vacation. It was determined that not only did vacations not impact their happiness levels, but that the vacation had no long-lasting effect. Even those who said their vacations were relaxing were not much happier than they had been before the trip. Most of the happiness came from planning the trip and being excited about getting away from work and home. This anticipatory happiness is about all vacations are good for when it comes to overall happiness. Most people soon find out that they return to the same life they had before, along with an overwhelming amount of work that they need to catch up on. It may be better to plan a few short vacations throughout the year to make sure you always have something to look forward to and to make sure you don't feel overwhelmed when you get back.