Just as the road to success is paved with pitfalls, finding true happiness isn’t exclusively about feeling positive emotions, experts are saying.
It shouldn’t come as news that letting yourself feel your emotions completely can make you happier. If you think about it though, a lot of us don’t really give heed to this advice.
Here are some examples: you’d like to cry because your friend died but you need to keep your composure in public. Or, perhaps you really felt extremely angry when the guy next to you on the road nearly caused a major accident the other day, but you didn’t say a word. Because that would be road rage and you don’t believe in losing your cool.
The thing is, this is actually damaging to your pursuit of happiness, experts say. A new study put out by the American Psychological Association shows that people are happiest when they feel all the emotions they desire, good and bad. Plain and simple, it’s good to let things out.
(No, you shouldn’t hurl expletives out the car window at the driver, that’s not advised. But throwing some around inside the privacy of your own vehicle with the windows rolled up nice and tight, could actually do you some good).
The study that discovered this included 2,324 university students in an amazing total of eight countries, including the United States, Brazil, China, Germany, Ghana, Israel, Poland and Singapore.
The research, which was published online in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, is the first of its kind to find this relationship.
“Happiness is more than simply feeling pleasure and avoiding pain,” says lead researcher Maya Tamir, PhD, a psychology professor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.”Happiness is about having experiences that are meaningful and valuable, including emotions that you think are the right ones to have,” she continued.
Interestingly, Prof. Tamir has some specific words for those living in the U.S, in light of her findings.
Americans, in her professional opinion, tend to have unrealistic expectations about their own feelings.
Many of us believe that we should be happy all the time. In reality though, it doesn’t play out.
“People want to feel very good all the time in Western cultures, especially in the United States,” Tamir said.
“Even if they feel good most of the time, they may still think that they should feel even better, which might make them less happy overall.”
So, here’s the upshot: maybe it’s raining outside and you don’t like it. Embrace that fact.
You’re not really feeling stable or very confident? Don’t become a neo Nazi, just tell someone how you feel and try to be compassionate with yourself. Others have definitely felt the same way. Let that feeling exist inside you and acknowledge it. The next step is to value yourself for who you are.
Do a painting, go out and volunteer and find the silver lining. You’re worth it.
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