haidut

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The message about activeliy pursuing happiness and the genetic basis of depression are probably two of the most deeply rooted memes in the Western world. Our reliance on the online medium to collect our daily ration of information is probably why most people are basking 24x7 in deliberately crafted (and thus untrue) messages beamed from purportedly happy celebrities and medical practitioners like Dr. Oz. The message is that if you are not happy then something is wrong with you and it is probably in your genes.
This new study suggests that the pervasive social pressure to always be happy may be a major causative factor in depression. As such, allowing ourselves to be more human and fallible may be actually quite therapeutic. Unfortunately, given the current social values, it may also shut quite a few doors in terms of employment or social opportunities and that can ironically also cause depression. But the message is clear - the current culture is a major causative factor in depression and needs to change in order for the ongoing mental health epidemic to improve.

Our pursuit of happiness makes us sad - Futurity

"...Social pressure to feel happy can actually have the opposite effect–and might contribute to the prevalence of depression–according to recent research. “Depression rates are higher in countries that place a premium on happiness,” says social psychologist Brock Bastian. “Rather than being the by-product of a life well-lived, feeling happy has become a goal in itself. Smiling faces beam at us from social media and happiness gurus flog their latest emotional quick fixes, reinforcing the message that we should aim to maximize our positive emotions and avoid our negative ones."

"...Statistical analysis of the responses showed that the more a participant felt social pressure not to feel sad or anxious, the more likely they were to show an increase in depressive symptoms. The study provided important new insights into factors that predict whether people feel depressed on a daily basis, and it appears that a person’s social environment—the culture they live in—plays a central role in determining this mental illness. “Traditional depression research generally focuses on the role of person-specific characteristics, meaning that researchers look at genes, biomarkers, cognitive and behavioral styles. But the findings from this study suggest that external cultural factors are also at play,” says Bastian."

"...“So we’re finding that over-emphasizing happiness—the importance of seeking positive emotion and avoiding negative emotion—has implications for how people respond to their negative emotional experiences. We think we should be happy like we’re expected to be, and when we’re not, it can make us miserable.”

“In eastern—particularly Buddhist—cultures, people aren’t happier than their western counterparts, but they are less depressed. This over-emphasis on happiness we see here doesn’t happen in those countries in the same way and they seem to embrace a better balance of the whole emotional repertoire.

Feeling at times sad, disappointed, envious, lonely—that isn’t maladaptive, it’s human.”

"...Bastian proposes that in a clinical setting, psychologists can make their patients aware of this societal pressure to be happy so that they can better choose how to react to it. When scrolling past all the smiling faces on Instagram, they can remind themselves that others are also trying to present themselves in a positive light."
 

Prosper

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Well I felt happier when I stopped trying. But then I felt sad because I was not trying to be happy anymore. So if I tried to become even sadder than I am now, would I end up happier? Or how does this thing work?
 

Mage

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Amazing post as always! I think we all can relate to that, this whole "perfect" world that's marketed to people online is probably one of the main factors in the rampant surge of depression in young people, that and abusive college debts.

Personally, I feel much much better/happier after limiting my social media usage :)
 

NathanK

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Well I felt happier when I stopped trying. But then I felt sad because I was not trying to be happy anymore. So if I tried to become even sadder than I am now, would I end up happier? Or how does this thing work?
It sounds like two ends of the same spectrum. One end may be the tireless pursuit of happiness and the other is apathy from defeat.

Maybe the answer is just in being authentically you emotionally and intellectually. The only expectations being your own.
 

bzmazu

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We seek happiness, do we not, through things, through relationship, through ideas or thought? So, things, relationship and ideas, and not happiness, become all important. That is, whenever we seek happiness through something, the thing becomes important and not happiness. When stated like that it sounds very simple, and it is very simple. Because we seek happiness in property, in family, in ideas, the property, family and ideas become all important; we expect to find happiness through something. Now, can happiness be found through anything? Things made by the hand or by the mind have assumed greater significance than happiness itself, and because, things, relationship and ideas are so obviously impermanent, we are always unhappy. That is, we seek happiness through things and we find that there is no happiness. If we examine a little bit more closely we will find that happiness does not come through things. Then again, if we shift to another level, the level of relationship between ourselves and others, whether it be the society, the family or the nation, we see the enormous difficulty of adjustment between ourselves and others. So, if you observe it very closely you will find that there is an extraordinary impermanency in relationship, though we try to anchor ourselves in relationship and make it a refuge and a security....Krishnamurti

"There is great happiness in not wanting, in not being something, in not going somewhere"....Krishnamurti
 

schultz

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I could see Facebook and other social media causing this. My wife goes on there all the time and comments to me about how much fun other people are having, as if we're not. She posts pictures of our hobby farm and I'm sure some other person is like "Wow I want that life!".
 

sladerunner69

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Happiness is found where an organism's needs are in complete harmony.

Sounds like equivocation tbh

I wonder what drives this construct of society that eveyrhting is perfect and awesome and completely great. Is it authoritarian at its core? I know they play some of the most obnoxiously high-noted music in department stores and shops so that you feel "elated" and ready to open your wallet.
 

Energizer

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Sounds like equivocation tbh

I wonder what drives this construct of society that eveyrhting is perfect and awesome and completely great. Is it authoritarian at its core? I know they play some of the most obnoxiously high-noted music in department stores and shops so that you feel "elated" and ready to open your wallet.

Good question, I wonder if it's a relic from the Victorian era in which people would feign politeness to smooth social affairs. I agree consumerism probably plays a role as well. In Russia I've heard Russians do not like to smile or show outward happiness except during significant events, as opposed to the constant phony smiling here in the states. Any Russians here that can confirm or deny this? I have not been to Russia, so I could be wrong.
 

dookie

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@haidut

Any advice on how to set up goals then?

What should be the "purpose of life"?

Aren't those things automatically discovered, when in good health?
 

Xisca

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Purpose of life is easy: do your best to stay alive !
 

DaveFoster

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Good question, I wonder if it's a relic from the Victorian era in which people would feign politeness to smooth social affairs. I agree consumerism probably plays a role as well. In Russia I've heard Russians do not like to smile or show outward happiness except during significant events, as opposed to the constant phony smiling here in the states. Any Russians here that can confirm or deny this? I have not been to Russia, so I could be wrong.
I find the fake smiles and mock politeness often in large government organizations, or very large corporations. Large, successfully run businesses tend to hire genuinely happy and successful people, and although their behavior seems odd, it does not appear as forced as the reiterated lines of a state insurance representative or Microsoft tech support rep. There are countless exceptions, of course. Small businesses can be the most enjoyable, as everything seems natural and casual, or they can be some of the worst, yet most genuine interactions. I find these to be refreshing because life is hard, and when people pretend it isn't, it's a form of lying.

Germans don't smile because they have a cultural belief in the inherent suffering of life, and smiling deposes this truth and undermines the struggling of the individual. You can find this in German philosophy, as with Nietzsche's ubermensch, or superman (one who overcomes all odds).

Russians believe that personal property begins and ends at the self (the person smiling may invite an intrusion on his or her self.) Therefore, a maintained neutral expression does not invite touch and violation of the individual.
 

Regina

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I find the fake smiles and mock politeness often in large government organizations, or very large corporations. Large, successfully run businesses tend to hire genuinely happy and successful people, and although their behavior seems odd, it does not appear as forced as the reiterated lines of a state insurance representative or Microsoft tech support rep. There are countless exceptions, of course. Small businesses can be the most enjoyable, as everything seems natural and casual, or they can be some of the worst, yet most genuine interactions. I find these to be refreshing because life is hard, and when people pretend it isn't, it's a form of lying.

Germans don't smile because they have a cultural belief in the inherent suffering of life, and smiling deposes this truth and undermines the struggling of the individual. You can find this in German philosophy, as with Nietzsche's ubermensch, or superman (one who overcomes all odds).

Russians believe that personal property begins and ends at the self (the person smiling may invite an intrusion on his or her self.) Therefore, a maintained neutral expression does not invite touch and violation of the individual.
Neat!
 

Mufasa

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I think this has much to do with that if you ignore negative emotions, (try to pretend they dont exist), they often become worse.

If you feel guilty, embrace that, and tell the person you are sorry. If you feel angry, communicate that someone crossed a boundary. Etc.

Seeing negative emotions as action signals.
 

yerrag

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When you're smiling, are you:

- sad, but simply sending in the clowns?
-trying to make the happy action turn on your happy self?
-really happy, screw the laugh lines showing up all over your countenance?
 
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@haidut

Any advice on how to set up goals then?

What should be the "purpose of life"?

Aren't those things automatically discovered, when in good health?

The purpose of life is to love your neighbor as you love yourself so that you may have eternal life.

The hard part is figuring out how to love yourself.


It is easy to feel good. If you just want to have positive emotions, meditate 8 hours a day completely blissed out. The problem is that it is boring and a waste of a life.

Came into this thread expecting Jordan peterson...was not disappointed. It seems like people have an inherent need to let some authoritative figure do their thinking for them.

I disagree with your post. Happiness is not easy to achieve. Meditation for 8 hours wouldn't lead to happiness. That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard.

I wonder if some frumpy college professor is someone to take advice from on leading an exciting life. Or hapiness.

It pisses me off that this guy is lauded as a thinker. Oh really Buddhist monks who spend their whole day meditating lead seemingly boring lives?? That's something a little kid would say. That's something anyone would say.
 

Hugh Johnson

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The purpose of life is to love your neighbor as you love yourself so that you may have eternal life.

The hard part is figuring out how to love yourself.



Came into this thread expecting Jordan peterson...was not disappointed. It seems like people have an inherent need to let some authoritative figure do their thinking for them.

I disagree with your post. Happiness is not easy to achieve. Meditation for 8 hours wouldn't lead to happiness. That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard.

I wonder if some frumpy college professor is someone to take advice from on leading an exciting life. Or hapiness.

It pisses me off that this guy is lauded as a thinker. Oh really Buddhist monks who spend their whole day meditating lead seemingly boring lives?? That's something a little kid would say. That's something anyone would say.
You obviously know nothing about meditation, and then construct an argument based on your ideas, which you think are true because you thought of them. Then you say a bunch of red herrings about Peterson and complain about people quoting thinkers on a forum dedicated to the work of one thinker.
 
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