Are you happy? Well, don’t try to be happier, or you might become less happy. Does that make sense?

Psychologist Shigehiro Oishi discovered that, on average, European-Americans claim to be happy in general?more happy than Asian-Americans or Koreans or Japanese?but are more easily made less happy by negative events, and recover at a slower rate from negative events, than their counterparts in Asia or with an Asian ancestry. On the other hand, Koreans, Japanese, and to a lesser extent, Asian-Americans, are less happy in general, but recover their emotional equilibrium more readily after a setback than European-Americans. Oishi says, “We found that the more positive events a person has, the more they feel the effects of a negative event. People seem to dwell on the negative thing when they have a large number of good events in their life. It is like the person who is used to flying first class and becomes very annoyed if there is a half-hour delay. But the person who flies economy class accepts the delay in stride.”

In other words, people who become accustomed to many positive or happy events in their life are more likely to take a harder fall than people who have learned to accept the bad with the good. Oishi says, “In general, it’s good to have a positive perspective, but unless you can switch your mindset to accept the negative facts of everyday life?that these things happen and must be accepted?it becomes very hard to maintain a comfortable level of satisfaction.”

His advice: “Don’t try to be happier.”

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