What makes us happy is as individual and varied as us human beings. For some people, they couldn’t be happier than when they are outside in nature, and yet for others that sounds like their worst nightmare. Scientifically, however, there are a lot of misconceptions that we have about happiness and here are just a few.
More money can mean more happiness
They say money can’t buy you happiness, but it seems that there is a point at which it does. An average salary of $75,000 is when joy starts to plateau, although follow-up studies have shown that this can be pinpointed even more specifically in certain areas. For example, if you live in Atlanta you will only need to make around $42,000 a year before you hit peak happiness, whereas a New Yorker will have to be making $105,000 a year before it starts to plateau.
There is such a thing as too much choice
It makes sense that having a choice is better for our happiness than having no choice at all, however, if we are given too many options, our ability to make decisions falters and this can be exhausting and causes us extra stress. You’re not going to be over the moon if you’re feeling stressed, so limit your choices in life when you can.
Giving is better than receiving
Studies have shown that it is almost a universal concept that giving gifts brings more joy than receiving them. Your level of happiness spikes when you spend money on someone other than yourself and the giver of a gift is likely to be happier than the receiver. There’s your excuse to stock up on Christmas presents then!
A more extended vacation is not always the key to happiness
You would assume that the longer a vacation, the happier you will be, however, research suggests that a one-week trip is much better than a two-week trip. We are essentially made up of two “selves,” the experiencing self, which lives in the moment, and the remembering self which enjoys things in hindsight. Unless you have a two-week trip where you can do something different every day, the memories will merge into one, and you won’t benefit from the happiness with your remembering self.
Being happy all the time isn’t good for us
Although it would seem that the end goal would be a life of constant happiness, it is actually better to think of it as multi-faceted. Happiness is a spectrum, not a simple black and white situation, and we need to be able to experience the less great moments in life in order to truly maximise happiness; in other words, we need to dread Mondays in order to fully appreciate the weekend!
Holding a grudge holds happiness back
Anecdotally, we probably all know that holding a grudge isn’t good for our mental health; however, this is actually also backed up by science. As difficult as it might be to confront negative emotions, it is worth it to let go of a grudge which will, in turn, make you feel much happier. In fact, forgiveness has been shown to improve physical ability! During a study in which participants were asked to either think of a time they kept a grudge or a time they forgave someone, the group of participants that forgave were able to jump much higher. Forgiving will literally help your soar.
Remember, a lot of our feelings are down to us and our attitude towards the world, so try to do what you can to keep yourself feeling happy!