May 20, 2013

Pop psychology #happiness #fail

This list of 22 traits of happy people was posted by a friend of mine on Facebook. It sounds nice, but it's trite, and some of it actually conflicts with what other happiness researchers, or "researchers," tell us. Fortunately for psychologists, economics is still listed as a social science, or social "science," to keep psychology from being the most unscientific field in that domain.

A few specifics about this list?

8. Never make excuses.

Uhh, wrong? Er, wrong! Per happiness guru Marlin Seligman, tools such as "minimization" (which certainly involves excuse-making) are big, big, big, in promoting one's own happiness.

10. Wake up at the same time every morning.
Have you noticed that a lot of successful people tend to be early risers? 

First, "happiness" isn't the same thing as "successful," if it's being defined as something like business success. Second, waking up at the same time is not the same as being an early riser. Third, Ben Franklin, author of "early to rise" as a maxim, did no such thing himself.

19. Live minimally. 

But, there are rich, and at least somewhat materialistic, people who actually are happy. And, up to a certain point, even in America, more income does buy a better sense of well-being.

2. Treat everyone with kindness.
Did you know that it has been scientifically proven that being kind makes you happier? Every time you perform a selfless act, your brain produces serotonin, a hormone that eases tension and lifts your spirits.

Oh, doorknob, the "your brain is a sponge on neurochemicals" claim. It's been getting outdated for nearly a decade.

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