The Pursuit of Happiness

A decade of research reveals the benefits of positive emotions for mental and physical health; however, recent empirical work suggests the explicit pursuit of happiness may backfire. The present study hypothesized that the pursuit of happiness is not inherently self-defeating; in particular, individuals who seek positivity, as exemplified by how they make decisions about how to organize their day-to-day lives, may be happier. This individual difference is labeled prioritizing positivity. In a study published in the journal Emotion, a community sample of young to older adults (N = 233), prioritizing positivity predicted a host of well-being outcomes (positive emotions, depressive symptomology). In addition, people high in prioritizing positivity have greater resources, and these links are explained by more frequent experiences of positive emotions. In sum, the present study suggests that seeking happiness, although a delicate art, may be a worthwhile pursuit.

For the abstract


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