Don’t try so hard so hard to be happy – It may sound crazy, but it’s true: It’s the pressure to be happy that often leads to sadness and even depression during the holidays.

Psychologist Samuel Gladding is on a mission to redefine what it means to be “happy” during the holidays, which is why he’s challenging the traditional view of happy holidays by pointing out that the higher our expectations, the less likely we are to actually be happy. His advice: Don’t idealize the holidays. Nobody has a family that’s like a Norman Rockwell painting.

One way to be happy is to get the presents you really want, and for a good estimate of the use you’ll get out of that new gadget, ask a stranger. Sociologist Jeffrey Vietri says, “People make optimistic predictions about themselves. They expect relationships to last longer, tasks to take less time and things to turn out generally better than they will. And when they ask for a waffle-maker for Christmas, they think, ‘I’ll use this all the time!’ But sometimes the reality of owning an object doesn’t quite measure up to our expectations. The cappuccino machine is a hassle to clean, the fancy navigation system is not necessary for most driving, and no one has time to play the new piano.”

When he asked 164 participants to make predictions on how often they would use an item they hoped to receive as a gift during the upcoming holiday season, then followed up in the spring, he discovered that the gifts, no matter how longed for, were not used as often as predicted. “59% of gifts were used less frequently than the recipients had expected to use them,” he says. “Recipients predicted that the gifts would be used close to twice as frequently as they actually were.”Overspending and clutter are a predictable result of acquiring something with the mistaken belief you will use the item more often than you actually will. Maybe a small step toward solving the problems of savings, clutter and the environment is to consult with others about our purchases and take their prediction seriously.”

We want our subscribers to be HAPPY this Christmas, which is why we’ve given them a season, special gift!

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