Magazine article Psychology Today

Eyes on the Prize

Magazine article Psychology Today

Eyes on the Prize

Article excerpt

IS HAPPINESS SOMETHING YOU CAN CHASE, OR IS IT FOOLISH TO TRY?

the pursuit of happiness is intrinsic to American identity. But two recent studies in Emotion report that seeking a constant stream of positivity often backfires. Still, you're not powerless to change your mood: Positive psychology has demonstrated the lasting benefits of paying attention to where you are, not just to where you're going. In addition, success maybe dictated by how explicitly you label your goal as "happiness." Can you make happy happen? Three experts weigh in. -Lauren F Friedman

No: Call Off the Chase

Happiness doesn't have to be the be-all, end-all, argues Todd Kashdan, a psychologist at George Mason University. What about curiosity or a sense of purpose? "Trying to make happiness your objective in life is problematic," Kashdan says. Your mood can be thrown off by the weather, circadian rhythms, and other external factors, but you can pursue your passions, for example, which gives you the power to boost your long-term well-being. …

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