Every day, it seems, we are bombarded with advertisements, memes and well-meaning emails telling us how to “be happy.” Despite this, a new study led by Stanford University reveals that chasing happiness may actually make us less happy.
The new research, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, does, however, point to effective ways to find happiness. One such path is through concrete, specific goals of benevolence instead of similar, but more abstract goals. For example, making someone smile or increasing your recycling rather than making someone happy or saving the environment.
When you pursue concretely framed goals, the researchers say, your realistic expectations of success are more likely to be met. Broad and abstract goals, in contrast, are more likely to have unrealistic and unachievable expectations.