Striving For Happiness Can Leave You Feeling Lonely

Experts find people who over-value happiness could end up lonely

We all dream of a happy, quiet life – but now experts have found over-valuing happiness could damage your friendships and leave you feeling lonely.

The study, by scientists at the University of Denver and University of California, Berkeley, was published in the journal Emotion and was made up of two experiments.

The first looked at 206 men and women ages 20-60 who completed online surveys assessing how much value they placed on happiness.

A week later they filled out 14 diaries before going to bed, writing about the most stressful event of the day and how lonely they felt during it. Those who valued happiness the most felt lonelier during the stressful events.

The second experiment looked at 43 female undergraduates, who watched an emotionally neutral film-clip and then rated how lonely they felt watching it.

Some then read a fake newspaper article emphasising the benefits of happiness on relationships, careers and overall well-being. Others read the same article but with the word happiness replaced with accurate judgement.

All participants then watched a 35-minute film designed to make people feel initimacy.

Although both groups did not differ in terms of feelings of loneliness at the start of the study, afterwards the group made to value happiness more reported feeling significantly more lonely.

The authors of the study said: ‘Few things seem more natural and functional than wanting to be happy.

‘We suggest that, counter to this intuition, valuing happiness may have some surprising negative consequences.

‘Striving for happiness might damage people’s connections with others and make them lonely.’

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