Are You Seeking True Happiness or Negative Happiness? (#117)

Are You Seeking True Happiness or Negative Happiness? (#117)

Tired of moving the goal post on yourself? Want to STOP doing that? Keep reading! Years ago, I was lucky enough to take an online course taught by Tal Ben-Shahar who is a happiness researcher and teaches a happiness course at Harvard. That course helped me recognize this pattern in myself so that I could break free from it. And help others do the same.

Let’s look a little closer at what’s going on here.  As a high achiever, we sometimes forego our present happiness for future gain.  And to be absolutely clear, there is nothing wrong with that in and of itself.  That’s what enables us to achieve our goals and create our lives in the way that we want to create them.  Here’s where it gets us into trouble:  When we don’t recognize what’s really going on.  Often when we achieve a big goal, what we really feel is relief, but we mistake that for happiness. 

I was working with a top salesperson, and he said, “Why is it that every time I hit my quarterly goal, I feel a moment of happiness, but it passes quickly?  And then I just move the goal posts back and start again.” I asked him to describe the feeling more and he said, “It’s like a huge weight is off my shoulders for a few minutes and then it’s right back when I start thinking about the next quarter.” He was describing relief that he hit his goal; not happiness.  Actually researchers call this “negative happiness.” When we don’t recognize that we are mistaking relief for happiness and then once the relief fades we think, “I’m not happy.” Quickly, followed by, “What’s wrong with me?” The answer is nothing. In this super short episode, I dive into this a little bit more including sharing 2 strategies that you can use right away to help with this feeling of elusive happiness.

Show Notes

Negative Happiness -  After a splitting headache is mitigated or lessened, we get a joyful feeling of satisfaction. It feels good, but relief is not synonymous with happiness. Instead, it is a state of negative happiness. Strategy One – The first strategy for overcoming negative happiness is to develop an appreciation for the process, not simply the outcome. Naturally, you have no control over the outcome. Hence, merely regulate the input by enjoying the procedure. Strategy Two - Determine the activities that provide enjoyment in the present moment and not the future. Create a list and attach it to yourself. This strategy would be an excellent way to counterbalance your achievement orientation. Potential Pitfall - We frequently believe something should be on our list when it is not a proper fit. Only you can determine what should be included on your list. So pick wisely.

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