The Negativity of the Pursuit of Happiness


There seems to be a general rule that we should always be happy. Is that working or is it making things worse?

Think about it. You're having a normal, but bad, and believe you should always be happy. So, by comparison, you will think something is wrong. The black or white choices are happy, or depressed - with nothing in between. So most people will believe that they are depressed. In Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America, Barbara Ehrenreich discussed this concept.

A recent study also has showed this effect. Read more about it, and also how to help yourself, in "Why Trying to Be Happy Is So Depressing" by Tina Gilbertson in Psychology Today.

So, then how do we know we’re not depressed if we can’t compare it to happiness? Also in Psychology Today, Seth J. Gillihan Ph.D wrote "How Do You Know When Your Depression Is Improving?" In the article, he discusses eight ways to tell just that, suggesting looking for patterns and clusters of symptoms, rather than the "I am happy vs. I am depressed" black or white dichotomy.

Nothing about life is either/or, black/white. So allow yourself lots of shades of gray where your mental health, particularly related to mood, is concerned. Happiness is simply one of those shades, just like all the other possibilities - not the only shade in every circumstance.

If you have any questions or need someone to talk to, learn more about therapy with Donna Chimato.


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