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Happiness, 1.15 (V) Week 1 Video 8 - Three negative misconceptions about happiness

[MUSIC] Hi there and welcome back! This week, we are discussing the first deadly happiness sin which is de-valuing happiness. In the last two videos, we saw how we de-value happiness by succumbing to the fundamental happiness paradox. In this video, I want to turn to why we devalue happiness. Why do we devalue happiness if happiness is such an important goal? It turns out that there are three main reasons. The first reason is that we hold many negative beliefs about happiness. And because of this, we don't find happiness to be as attractive as we otherwise might. This is similar to how you will healthy food to be less attractive to you if you believe that unhealthy food is tastier. My colleagues and I have found in some studies that those who believe that healthy food is not as tasty as unhealthy food find it more difficult to resist eating unhealthy food. In a very similar way, if you hold negative beliefs about happiness, you won't find it as attractive and therefore you're likely to sacrifice it for the sake of other goals. One common negative belief about happiness is that it will lead to laziness. If I'm happy, many people think to themselves, why should I work hard? In fact, however, study after study reveals that happiness doesn't makes us lazy. If anything, it makes us more productive and more successful. Here's just a small sample of findings on the effect that happiness has on productivity and success. Happier insurance agents sell more insurance. Happier employees earn more. Happier, that is optimistic, CEOs foster a more positive work climate which in turn improves organizational productivity. Happier CEOs receive higher performance ratings from chairpersons of their boards and head companies with greater returns on investment. Happier batsmen, and this is, by the way, my favorite finding of all of these, happier batsmen in cricket have higher batting averages. Why does feeling happy make us more productive? One reason may be that we are more creative when we are happy. Barbara Fredrickson, a professor from the University of North Carolina and Chapel Hill, calls this the broadening effect of happiness. As Professor Fredrickson notes in her excellent book, Positivity. Several studies have shown that we come up with more and better ideas, and are therefore, more likely to be creative, when we are feeling positive or happy. You might have noticed this yourself. You are more likely to come up with good ideas, when you're feeling good. For example, when you've had a good night's sleep and you're relaxing. Rather than when you're feeling stressed out or anxious or depressed. Another common misconception about happiness is that happiness makes people selfish. If I'm already happy, many of us think to ourselves, why should I really care about others? As it turns out, however, we are much less self-centered and much more altruistic when we're happier. Most of us actually know this from our own personal experience. For example, ask yourself, when are you likely to be nice to your family and less likely to kick your dog? When you have just be shouted at by your boss or when you have just received a promotion? Of course, you're more likely to be nice to everyone when you're happy. But somehow, we sometimes forget this when we think about happiness. We think that we would become selfish if you're happy. Again, study after study confirms that this negative belief about happiness too is just plain wrong. Here's just a small sample of findings. Happy people volunteer more for social causes. Happy people are more likely to judge others favorably and are more likely and willing to share their good fortune with others more equitably. People feeling happy contribute more money to charity and they're also more likely to donate blood. And this is my favorite, happier people are more likely to volunteer for an extra experiment. When I talk to Dr. Happiness, Professor Ed Diener himself recently, I asked him about the various ways in which people feeling happy has beneficial effects. I brought up this issue by first mentioning a French writer named, Gustave Flaubert. Who once commented that to be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements of happiness, although if stupidity is lacking, then all is lost. I mentioned that although Flaubert was a funny man, he had it all wrong. I then asked Professor Diener to elaborate on why Flaubert was wrong. A quick note before I play Professor Diener's clip. Note that when Professor Diener refers to negative affect and positive affect, what he means is negative and positive emotions or feelings. » Flaubert was a funny man because he said three requirements of happiness. But the absolute essential one would be that you'd be stupid. In other words, anybody who is happy is stupid because they don't really understand the world and all the evil in the world and so forth. But what we found empirically without just thinking about it. But actually going out and finding facts, is surprisingly, and I wasn't a true believer that I thought happy people were necessarily going to do better in life, that they do better in so many spheres. The evidence for that, for example, in health and mortality is pretty strong. If you look at people's happiness at time one, say when they're 20. And you follow and see when they're going to die, say at 80 or 90, or how often they get sick, get cardiovascular disease, some serious illness. You'll see that that initial happiness will predict that. Not only does it happen at the individual level but you also see it at the regional level. For example, counties in the US that appear to be less happy have higher rates of cardiovascular disease. And you can control for things like income that might confound that correlation and it still comes out. And now there's been a large number of very big studies that have followed people over time. And many of them or most of them show that people who are high in subjective were all being at time one will live longer. In the social areas I mentioned earlier, happy people get married more. And, when we bring people in the lab and put them in a good mood, they're more sociable, they're more talkative. We see a lot of different types of evidence, both experimental and longitudinal, to suggest that happy people are healthier, happy people are more sociable. There's also evidence to suggest they actually do better in the workplace. So I mentioned earlier, that happy 18 year olds, cheerful 18 year olds, later earn higher income. That's now been replicated in at least three other countries beside the US so it seems like it's a fairly general phenomenon. Why is that? Their supervisors like them better, they're more energetic, they tend to be more creative so they do better in the work place. And then a fourth area where happy people do better is in citizenship. That is, they help other people on the job even when it's not their responsibility to do so. They may donate more money to charity, volunteer time and so forth. So we find in all those different areas, that happy people, on average, are doing better. » So, as you just heard from Professor Diener, happiness doesn't make you lazy or selfish. If anything, it has the opposite effect. As you also heard, it also has a bunch of other positive effects on health, on citizenship, etc. Let me turn now to a third negative belief about happiness that many of us harbor, that happiness is fleeting. That is, we devalue happiness because we believe that it won't last for long anyways, so why value it? But is happiness in fact, fleeting? The answer is, it depends. It depends on how you define happiness. If you define happiness as sensory pleasure, happiness won't last long. If you define it as love or connection, on the other hand, it has the potential to last much longer. Likewise, if you define it as something akin to what I call abundance. Which is the feeling you get from believing that you're taken care of and that life is perfect with it's imperfections, then that feeling has the potential to last even longer. We learn more about which types of feelings are likely to last longer and why in future videos in this course. But for now, going back to why we devalue happiness, one reason is because we harbor negative beliefs about happiness. In particular, many of us harbor three negative beliefs, that happiness makes us selfish, happiness makes us lazy, and that happiness is fleeting. But as we have seen, none of these beliefs is true. In the next video I'm going to discuss two other reasons why we devalue happiness. Until then, goodbye. [MUSIC]



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[MUSIC] Hi there and welcome back! This week, we are discussing the first deadly happiness sin which is de-valuing happiness. In the last two videos, we saw how we de-value happiness by succumbing to the fundamental happiness paradox. In this video, I want to turn to why we devalue happiness. Why do we devalue happiness if happiness is such an important goal? It turns out that there are three main reasons. The first reason is that we hold many negative beliefs about happiness. And because of this, we don't find happiness to be as attractive as we otherwise might. This is similar to how you will healthy food to be less attractive to you if you believe that unhealthy food is tastier. My colleagues and I have found in some studies that those who believe that healthy food is not as tasty as unhealthy food find it more difficult to resist eating unhealthy food. In a very similar way, if you hold negative beliefs about happiness, you won't find it as attractive and therefore you're likely to sacrifice it for the sake of other goals. One common negative belief about happiness is that it will lead to laziness. If I'm happy, many people think to themselves, why should I work hard? In fact, however, study after study reveals that happiness doesn't makes us lazy. If anything, it makes us more productive and more successful. Here's just a small sample of findings on the effect that happiness has on productivity and success. Happier insurance agents sell more insurance. Happier employees earn more. Happier, that is optimistic, CEOs foster a more positive work climate which in turn improves organizational productivity. Happier CEOs receive higher performance ratings from chairpersons of their boards and head companies with greater returns on investment. Happier batsmen, and this is, by the way, my favorite finding of all of these, happier batsmen in cricket have higher batting averages. Why does feeling happy make us more productive? One reason may be that we are more creative when we are happy. Barbara Fredrickson, a professor from the University of North Carolina and Chapel Hill, calls this the broadening effect of happiness. As Professor Fredrickson notes in her excellent book, Positivity. Several studies have shown that we come up with more and better ideas, and are therefore, more likely to be creative, when we are feeling positive or happy. You might have noticed this yourself. You are more likely to come up with good ideas, when you're feeling good. For example, when you've had a good night's sleep and you're relaxing. Rather than when you're feeling stressed out or anxious or depressed. Another common misconception about happiness is that happiness makes people selfish. If I'm already happy, many of us think to ourselves, why should I really care about others? As it turns out, however, we are much less self-centered and much more altruistic when we're happier. Most of us actually know this from our own personal experience. For example, ask yourself, when are you likely to be nice to your family and less likely to kick your dog? When you have just be shouted at by your boss or when you have just received a promotion? Of course, you're more likely to be nice to everyone when you're happy. But somehow, we sometimes forget this when we think about happiness. We think that we would become selfish if you're happy. Again, study after study confirms that this negative belief about happiness too is just plain wrong. Here's just a small sample of findings. Happy people volunteer more for social causes. Happy people are more likely to judge others favorably and are more likely and willing to share their good fortune with others more equitably. People feeling happy contribute more money to charity and they're also more likely to donate blood. And this is my favorite, happier people are more likely to volunteer for an extra experiment. When I talk to Dr. Happiness, Professor Ed Diener himself recently, I asked him about the various ways in which people feeling happy has beneficial effects. I brought up this issue by first mentioning a French writer named, Gustave Flaubert. Who once commented that to be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements of happiness, although if stupidity is lacking, then all is lost. I mentioned that although Flaubert was a funny man, he had it all wrong. I then asked Professor Diener to elaborate on why Flaubert was wrong. A quick note before I play Professor Diener's clip. Note that when Professor Diener refers to negative affect and positive affect, what he means is negative and positive emotions or feelings. » Flaubert was a funny man because he said three requirements of happiness. But the absolute essential one would be that you'd be stupid. In other words, anybody who is happy is stupid because they don't really understand the world and all the evil in the world and so forth. But what we found empirically without just thinking about it. But actually going out and finding facts, is surprisingly, and I wasn't a true believer that I thought happy people were necessarily going to do better in life, that they do better in so many spheres. The evidence for that, for example, in health and mortality is pretty strong. If you look at people's happiness at time one, say when they're 20. And you follow and see when they're going to die, say at 80 or 90, or how often they get sick, get cardiovascular disease, some serious illness. You'll see that that initial happiness will predict that. Not only does it happen at the individual level but you also see it at the regional level. For example, counties in the US that appear to be less happy have higher rates of cardiovascular disease. And you can control for things like income that might confound that correlation and it still comes out. And now there's been a large number of very big studies that have followed people over time. And many of them or most of them show that people who are high in subjective were all being at time one will live longer. In the social areas I mentioned earlier, happy people get married more. And, when we bring people in the lab and put them in a good mood, they're more sociable, they're more talkative. We see a lot of different types of evidence, both experimental and longitudinal, to suggest that happy people are healthier, happy people are more sociable. There's also evidence to suggest they actually do better in the workplace. So I mentioned earlier, that happy 18 year olds, cheerful 18 year olds, later earn higher income. That's now been replicated in at least three other countries beside the US so it seems like it's a fairly general phenomenon. Why is that? Their supervisors like them better, they're more energetic, they tend to be more creative so they do better in the work place. And then a fourth area where happy people do better is in citizenship. That is, they help other people on the job even when it's not their responsibility to do so. They may donate more money to charity, volunteer time and so forth. So we find in all those different areas, that happy people, on average, are doing better. » So, as you just heard from Professor Diener, happiness doesn't make you lazy or selfish. If anything, it has the opposite effect. As you also heard, it also has a bunch of other positive effects on health, on citizenship, etc. Let me turn now to a third negative belief about happiness that many of us harbor, that happiness is fleeting. That is, we devalue happiness because we believe that it won't last for long anyways, so why value it? But is happiness in fact, fleeting? The answer is, it depends. It depends on how you define happiness. If you define happiness as sensory pleasure, happiness won't last long. If you define it as love or connection, on the other hand, it has the potential to last much longer. Likewise, if you define it as something akin to what I call abundance. Which is the feeling you get from believing that you're taken care of and that life is perfect with it's imperfections, then that feeling has the potential to last even longer. We learn more about which types of feelings are likely to last longer and why in future videos in this course. But for now, going back to why we devalue happiness, one reason is because we harbor negative beliefs about happiness. In particular, many of us harbor three negative beliefs, that happiness makes us selfish, happiness makes us lazy, and that happiness is fleeting. But as we have seen, none of these beliefs is true. In the next video I'm going to discuss two other reasons why we devalue happiness. Until then, goodbye. [MUSIC]


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