Can feeling good ever be bad? New research says yes—and points the way to a healthier, more balanced life.
In recent years, we’ve seen an explosion of scientific research revealing precisely how positive feelings like happiness are good for us. We know that they motivate us to pursue important goals and overcome obstacles, protect us from some effects of stress, connect us closely with other people, and even stave off physical and mental ailments.
This has made happiness pretty trendy. The science of happiness made the covers of Time, Oprah, and even The Economist, and it has spawned a small industry of motivational speakers, psychotherapists, and research enterprises. This website, Greater Good, features roughly 400 articles about happiness, and its parenting blog is specifically about raising happy children.
Clearly, happiness is popular. But is happiness always good? Can feeling too good ever be bad? Researchers are just starting to seriously explore these questions, with good reason: By recognizing the potential pitfalls of happiness, we enable ourselves to understand it more deeply and we learn to better promote healthier and more balanced lives.