Decades of research on the science of happiness shows that there’s a big—and potentially life-altering—difference between what you think will make you happy and the things that actually do, argues University of California, Riverside psychology
professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, in her fascinating new book The Myths of Happiness.
加利福利亚大学教授 Sonja Lyubomirsky在她的新书《幸福的传说》中指出，根据长期关于幸福的科学研究发现，在你觉得可以让你幸福和实际让你幸福的事物之间有着巨大差异，这样的差异有可能改变你的生活。
Myth: The right marriage will provide endless happiness.
Science says: The average person picks up a sizeable boost in happiness when he or she gets married, but this only lasts about two years. After that, the former newlywed reverts back to his or her happiness level before the engagement.
Boost your bliss:
Delight in your partner’s good news. According to Lyubomirsky, “the closest, most intimate
, and most trusting relationships appear to be distinguished not by how partners respond to each other’s disappointments, but how they react to the good news.” When your husband shares that he’s getting promoted, reacting with joy and asking enthusiastic questions signals that you care. Being silently supportive or pointing out downsides (“Oh, you’ll have to work on weekends?”) undermines happiness.
Myth: Your “dream job” will make you happier at work than you currently are.
You adapt to all new experiences, and so any joy from a new work environment will likely fade with time. If you've gained responsibility, your expectations and aspirations will increase too, which can detract from happiness. One classic study tracked job satisfaction before and after a voluntary job change among high-level managers whose average salary was $135,000. Researchers found that managers experienced a burst of happiness right after the new job, but within a year, satisfaction plummeted
to their pre-move levels.
Boost your bliss:
To avoid taking a new job for granted, Lyubomirsky advises “re-experiencing” what it was you didn’t like about your previous work. If you used to make a lot less money, spend one week a month living on your old salary. If you worked nights, periodically
make yourself stay at work late. Mentally transporting yourself to where you didn't want to be will help you find more happiness in your current role.
Myth: A bigger salary makes you happier.
Science says: What your friends, family members, and colleagues make relative to your salary seems to affect your happiness more than what you make, no matter how much it is. For example. Lyubomirsky describes one study that found people prefer to live in a world where they make $50,000 and others earn $25,000 than in one where their annual salary is $100,000, but others make $200,000.
Boost your bliss: One way to “buy” happiness is to use money to buy another limited resource: time. Paying people to do time-consuming chores (paint the house, fix the plumbing) allows you to spend your time doing other things that make you happy, such as spending time with your family, volunteering, and enjoying a show.
Myth: A bigger house will boost your happiness.
If that mega-square foot home means you have to take out a barely affordable mortgage
, it may not give as much pleasure as you’d hope. Research shows that eliminating
negative experiences (like, worry associated with debt) makes you three to five times more happy than creating a positive experience (like, splurging on something). According to Lyubomirsky, “pleasure from the house can’t come close to matching the pain and worry of eking out monthly mortgage payments.”
Boost your bliss: Research increasingly shows that experiences, not things, make us happy. And “it appears that the happiest people are those who are most skilled at wringing experiences out of everything in which they invest their money, whether it’s a guitar, a plane ticket, a camera, cake decorating lessons, or running shoes.” You’ll be happier with your material possessions when you make fun memories out of them—a road trip in a new car, a family party on your new deck.
Myth: You’re happier after you reach a big goal.
Many studies show that people who are striving toward a goal are actually happier than when they accomplish it. This, Lyubomirsky writes, “contradicts
one of the primary myths of happiness, which tells us to wait for happiness until we realize our dreams.” Pursuing goals gives us pleasure by creating structure, deadlines, and opportunities to learn new skills.
Boost your bliss: Savor every “subgoal” (performing well at an audition) you accomplish on the path to your bigger goal (becoming a Broadway actress). “Instead of focusing too much on the finish line in the first place, we should focus on—and enjoy as much as possible—carrying out the multiple steps necessary to make progress,” Lyubormirsky says.
Myth: Every day with your kids should be filled with happiness.
“In the last two decades, the family has undergone seismic cultural shifts, and one such shift is the push to spend more time, and more quality time, with our children,” says Lyubomirsky. But this has led to chronic levels of anxiety, can’t-keep-up perfectionism, and burnout. Research actually shows that there’s a difference between daily levels of happiness and the 10,000-foot view of the joy of having a family. While a number of studies that compare happiness and satisfaction levels of parents and nonparents
find that parents are less happy, Lyubomirsky writes that when people are asked about their biggest regrets in life, not having children (or, more children) is bigger than having had them.
科学表明：Lyubomirsky说“在过去的四十年里，家庭有着巨大的文化转移，其中一个转变就是需要多花时间，更多宝贵的时间和孩子们在一起。” 但这也会带来周期性的焦虑、缺失感以及筋疲力尽。实际上研究发现拥有家庭的幸福和日程生活中的小幸福有着本质的差别。一系列的研究发现，在有孩子和没孩子的夫妻之间的幸福满足感中，有孩子的好像不那么幸福。 Lyubomirsky 说如果问人们生活中最后悔的事情是什么，没有要孩子（或者更多的孩子）似乎比要孩子更容易让人后悔。
Boost your bliss:
See the big picture. Adults who looked back on their relationships with their children, suggest you ask yourself: “What are you doing to create lasting, loving relationships with your children when they are 5? 10? or 15?” They advise you see your children providing continuity
, meaning, attachment, and greater purpose in life. You should also try to get away from your kids as you can; loving your children isn’t the same as loving parenting, especially when your kids are young.
Myth: A major crisis drains happiness more so than everyday annoyances.
Although most of us believe that significant events, such as a car accident or a job layoff, can affect your happiness more than daily hassles, it turns out that the mundane has a bigger impact. Researchers say this is because we’re extremely motivated to reach out to our community when we are coping with crises, but we don’t seek social support for little things, like a kid’s temper tantrum or a terrible commute
Boost your bliss:
Address these seemingly small issues, counsels Lyubomirsky, by talking with friends, reframing events in a more positive light, or finding time to recharge and regenerate
Myth: Once you hit a certain age, your best years are behind you.
Although most people believe that happiness declines with age, Lyubomirsky says that this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Three recent studies showed that the peak of positive emotional experience occurred at age 64, 65, and 79. “When we begin to recognize that our years are limited, we change our perspective
about life,” she writes. “The shorter time horizon motivates us to become more present-oriented and to invest our time and effort into the things in life that really matter.”
Boost your bliss:
Use your memories to boost—not detract from—your happiness. Research shows that people are happier when they relish and luxuriate
in the positive memories of happy past events, but don’t try to dissect the details too much. On the other hand, deliberately
analyzing painful memories (a bad breakup, a job layoff) to make sense of them and get past them increases happiness.