Imagine if the human potential movement of the 60’s gave birth to a love child. Fast forward 30 years and you have the happiness movement. In the late 1990’s, psychologist Martin Seligmen researched optimal moods and positive character traits. Following his lead a new generation of psychologists, neuroscientists, even economists began building a respectable body of research on happy-boosting practices.
But all is not necessarily well. According to some measures, as a nation we’ve grown sadder and more anxious during the same years that the happiness movement has flourished. It may be that we Americans tend to grab at superficial quick fixes to subdue any negative feelings that overcome us. Indeed, research shows instant indulgences do calm us down – for a few moments. But they leave us poorer physically, mentally and generally in the long run.
What to do?