Friday, 20 April 2012

Do our expectations of happiness make us unhappy?

Many of us like to treat ourselves when we feel down in a bid to make ourselves happy. As discussed in the previous blog however, people in Costa Rica are shown to be happy on far fewer resources than most of us consume.

In the current climate with unemployment rising and anti-depressants at an all-time high, it is no wonder we struggle to be happy. But are our expectations of happiness too high?

According to Greek mythology, ancient Egypt and cultures throughout the Mediterranean before and after Christ, happiness is, in fact, a miracle. Indeed, this is reflected in Indo-European languages in which the words ‘luck’ and ‘fate’ are equivalent to that of ‘happiness’. In English, the root of happiness derives from the Middle English and Old Norse ‘happ’, which means chance and fortune and appears in words such as ‘perhaps’ and ‘happens.’ In Spanish and Portuguese the words ‘felicidad’ and ’felicidade’ stem from the latin word ‘felix’, which means luck, and fate. Furthermore, the word ‘srecan’ in Serbo-Croatian means happiness and luck and occurs in phrases such as ‘sretna okolnost’ (lucky circumstance) and ‘imati srecu’ (to happen upon or have luck).

Since times of the Enlightenment however, our concept of happiness has changed from something elusive to something that we are entitled to. Ironically, these high expectations may make us unhappy. If we could return to the idea of happiness being something we chance upon, and work towards rather than something we are born with then perhaps we could improve our strategies in the pursuit of happiness and in turn, be happier people.

If you are feeling down and would like to book an initial session with one of our experienced practitioners, please contact your local First Psychology centre on: 

Edinburgh: 0131-668-1440,
Glasgow: 0141-404-5411,
Borders: 01896-800-400,

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