A lot of music has been written about being happy and the nature of happiness. Barney (the dinosaur) asked us to verify our happiness by clapping our hands (among other expressions of pleasure), Bobby McFarrin told us not to worry, but just to be happy, and The Beatles told us that happiness comes in the form of a warm gun. Now researchers from the venerable Universities of Illinois, Michigan, and Virginia say that being overly happy could be bad.
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Okay, not bad. But there appears to be a law of diminishing returns even in happiness. The results of the World Values Survey and those of 193 Illinois students were taken into account. Essentially, people that scored themselves 10 (on a scale of 10, 1 being lowest…) on the happiness chart were slightly less successful in relationships and careers than those in the 8 and 9 region.
The study goes on to caveat that the 10s were much better off than those on the low end of the scale. Evidently 10s are more prone to ‘everything will work out in the end’ optimism, like the good Dr. Pangloss (“the best of all possible worlds”). Whereas people in the 8-9 range are still optimistic but actively seek to better their fortune. This could, in some measure, explain why the computers in The Matrix couldn’t make the virtual world too perfect, no one would buy it. And this could explain some of the draw to religion; you know ‘take the good with the bad, expect a reward in the end.’
So grinning idiot finally has a little justification. We guess NOFX had it right all along, “His hopes may be false but his happiness is real. Don't try to judge him, he's just a man.” How is this related to relationships? Um, only date people that are happy as long as they’re not too happy. You’ll have a better chance of getting married and making it if you have a Peter Petrelli instead of a Hiro Nakamura.
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If you’re keeping score at home, we referenced Barney, Voltaire, The Matrix, Bobby McFarrin, The Beatles, and Heroes in one Dish.