Category Introduction: In the pursuit of happiness

I should explain this category before I go full hog into it. I’ve just read an article which looks in quite some detail at the “science of happiness” – in particular how modern psychology is adapting (or, failing) to look at happiness in a more methodical manner. Particularly in relation to “interventions” (treatments), which have traditionally been all about “tell me about your childhood, when did it all go wrong?” and stuff like that.

I know for myself that dwelling on negative events or emotions of course just creates more negativity – I think everyone can agree with that. I think the point of regressive psychoanalysis is to resolve outstanding issues. Perhaps some psychologists have lost sight of that. Thinking about negative events only has a positive outcome if you can resolve them, or have some sort of epiphany that imparts greater insight – perhaps the mere act of such epiphanies make us happier in their own right.

In any case, the underlying message is to focus on the positive, the future. One of the real stingers put forward by supporters of this “new psychology” is that humans are hard-wired to focus on negative stimuli, and to remember them for longer and with more emotional strength than positive ones. Something about hardship growing up… snow and lava and sabre-tooth tigers and all that. ;)

So, one “therapy” proposed is to keep a simple diary where you write down a few things (e.g. 3) each day that you think you [yourself] did well, and to reflect on why those things went well. Thus, I’m starting this. I’m traditionally pretty bad at keeping up little regimes like diaries and the like, so maybe this’ll peter out once the novelty wears off… still, I think I’m about over negativity at the moment, and could use a good change.

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