The happier you are, the better, right? Not necessarily. Studies show that there is a darker side to feeling good and that the pursuit of happiness can sometimes make you . . . well, less happy. Too much cheerfulness can make you gullible, selfish, less successful — and that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
Happiness does have benefits (beyond feeling good, of course). It can protect us from stroke and from the common cold, makes us more resistant to pain and even prolongs our lives. Yet, June Gruber, a professor of psychology at Yale University who has studied happiness, warns that it’s important to experience positive moods in moderation.
Well, that irritated the hell out of me, so I guess that's a good thing. Maybe we should change "life liberty and the pursuit of happiness" to "life, liberty and the pursuit of moderate positive moods."
I'm reminded of the remark by the Robert Duvall character in the movie "Tender Mercies" ("Mac Sledge," a great name for a boozed-up country singer): "I don't trust happiness. I never did; I never will." Happiness sucks you in, see, and makes you forget how transitory it is, so it's a crushing blow when it disappears. Great wisdom from the Washington Post, where everybody would probably be insulted to be compared to country music.
Everything is transitory, isn't it? Why not be as happy as you can as often as you can? Now, there's a dark thought.