Feeling Grumpy Can Actually Be a Good Thing

As psychotherapy, which depends on non-biological strategies like talk and counseling, has mostly been replaced by psychiatry, which employs medical and biological ways to treat mental problems, psychotherapists have looked for alternative difficulties.

Instead of focusing on easing the suffering of individuals who are mentally ill, one typical strategy is to emphasize on the enjoyment of those who are mentally well.

This is referred to as "positive psychology," and it has lately grown to include social workers, life coaches, and new age therapists in addition to psychologists. However, there is data that points to the approach's drawbacks.Seizing the day and living in the present may be the most often piece of advise given by positive psychologists. By doing this, we may become happier and steer clear of the three most infamous emotional states — or what I refer to as the "RAW emotions" — regret, anger, and anxiety.

In the end, it urges that we steer clear of obsessing over the past, harboring resentment toward it, or worrying about the future.

It appears to be a simple process. However, living in the past and the future is built into human mind by evolution. Other animals have reflexes and instincts to aid in their survival, but learning and preparation are crucial for human life. Without living in the past, you cannot learn, and without living in the future, you cannot plan.

Regret, for instance, which might cause us pain by making us think about the past, is an essential mental process for understanding one's own mistakes in order to prevent repeating them.

Future concerns are also necessary to spur us on to do actions that are somewhat uncomfortable now but will benefit us later on or prevent us from suffering larger losses. If we didn't care about the future at all, we may not even bother with going to school, taking care of our health, or stocking up on food.

Anger is a useful emotion, as my co-authors and I have demonstrated in a number of studies, much as regret and anxiety. It safeguards us from mistreatment from others and encourages those close to us to uphold our interests.

According to research, a small amount of rage during negotiations might even be beneficial and result in better results.

Additionally, studies have shown that unfavorable emotions can really be rather beneficial, making us more cynical and less trusting of others. According to studies, an astounding 80% of westerners really have an optimism bias, which implies we gain more knowledge from happy than from bad situations.

This may result in some ill-advised choices, such investing all of our resources in a venture with slim chances of success. So, is it necessary for us to be even more upbeat?

For instance, optimism bias is associated with overconfidence, which is the conviction that, on the whole, we are superior than others in most situations, from driving to grammar.

Relationships can suffer from overconfidence (where a bit of humility can save the day). It may also cause us to under-prepare for a challenging endeavor and then blame others when we inevitably fail.

On the other side, defensive pessimism can assist nervous people, especially, in getting ready by establishing a reasonable low bar rather than panicking, making it simpler to handle challenges calmly.

Capitalist interests

Despite this, positive psychology has had an impact on international and national policymaking.

One of its achievements was to start a discussion among economists on whether or not a nation's success should be gauged just by GDP growth or whether a broader definition of wellbeing should be used.

This gave rise to the fallacious theory that happiness can be gauged by asking individuals if they're happy or not. This is how the UN happiness index, which offers an absurd ranking of nations based on their degree of happiness, is put together.

While surveys on happiness do measure something, it is not happiness per se but rather a person's willingness to acknowledge that life is frequently tough or, alternately, a person's propensity to proclaim arrogantly that they always do better than others.

Positive psychology's overemphasis on happiness and claim that we have complete control over it hurts us in other ways as well.

Edgar Cabanas, the author of the recent book Happycracy, contends that this claim is being cynically utilized by businesses and politicians to transfer blame for anything from minor life discontent to severe depression from economic and societal institutions to the suffering people themselves.

After all, how can we attribute our sorrow on injustice, poverty, or unemployment if we have complete control over our happiness? The truth is, however, that we can not fully control our level of happiness, and social systems frequently contribute to hardship, poverty, stress, and unfairness — factors that influence how we feel.

At the very least, it is foolish to imagine that when you are facing serious financial difficulties or a traumatic experience, you can just think yourself well by concentrating on good feelings.

Although I don't think that positive psychology is being spread by capitalist businesses, I do think that we don't fully control our happiness and that trying to achieve it can actually make people sad.

Similar to encouraging someone not to think about a pink elephant, telling someone to be joyful might easily have the opposite effect on that person's thinking. In the first scenario, the inability to achieve the aim of happiness significantly increases dissatisfaction and self-blame.

The next concern is whether or not happiness truly is the most significant thing in life. Is it even a stable object that endures throughout time?

The American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson responded to these queries more than a century ago with the following response: "The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well."

Eyal Winter, Andrews and Elizabeth Brunner Professor of Behavioural/Industrial Economics, Lancaster University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. The views expressed are the author's own. Read the original article.