I recently read an article in a Dutch magazine, called “Psychologie”, about happiness. One thing the article opted was that people often have very wrong perceptions of what makes someone happy. The article portrayed the views of Sonja Lyubomirsky, an American professor in psychology at the University of California. According to her people grow up believing that making a lot of money, having children, and getting married will make them happy. The article calls those ideas the myths of happiness and claims that they do not have to make you have more joy in life. These factors might add to a persons happiness in a way, but people sometimes overestimate the importance of these aspects in life. By counting on these aspects to make them happy they make wrong decisions.
If we would follow her line of thinking this would mean that every now and then we should be more rational and that rationality makes us happy. An example of this is that we realize that we are not the only ones with a problem and thus can relate to others. Or that we might get a more realistic view of what to expect when we take a certain lifestep. I do agree that it is good to accept that not everything can happen the way you want it to happen. But I am also a really big fan of optimism. I believe that having a positive world view will get you a lot further than downgrading or rationalizing everything you see. Next to that I feel that even the action of thinking about something good that will happen will add a feeling of joy to your day.
After reading the article I visited the website of the magazine. They actually had an optimism personality test on-line. Of course I decided to try how optimistic I was and the test decided I was only semi-optimistic. That is actually a good sign, because it means that I can try to become even more optimistic if I want to. (See my first training in optimism already)
What do you think? Do you think that a rational or optimistic approach will attribute more to your happiness? Should the glass be half full or half empty?