There are Free Lunches Statement of Intentions

There are Free Lunches: Behavioral Clues to Live Happy in the Economic World is a blog that intends to present updated and relevant information about the "hidden" and only recently uncovered dimensions of the economic science: the behavioral factors. With this blog we intend to promote in Europe and in the rest of the World, the top research articles and perspectives on behavioral economics, decision making, consumer behavior, and general behavioral science. We aim to be followed by journalists, academics, managers, civil servants, and everyone who wishes to improve their daily interaction with the economic world and consequently, their lives' happiness.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

The dark side of happiness (via Boston Globe)

You can be happy starting today! Don’t sit by any longer, while friends and co-workers enjoy the good life. Happiness is yours for the taking: All you have to do is reach out and grab it.

So goes the message of countless self-help books and motivational videos, and the mantra of many a life coach. It’s been the thesis of a long and growing list of magazine stories and newspaper articles. It’s the appeal of a good number of serious psychology books, based on scientific research.

The last decade has been a golden era in the rigorous study of happiness, with researchers defining, ever more precisely, what makes us happy. And while the scholarship is new, it builds on a long national tradition of articulating happiness as one of life’s fundamental goals. The pursuit of happiness has been right up there with life and liberty since the country’s foundation.

Now, though, there is gathering evidence that happiness is not what it may appear. A string of new studies suggests that the modern chase after happiness--and even happiness itself--can hurt us. Happy, it turns out, is not always the way you want to be. To be happy is to be more gullible. Happy people tend to think less concretely and systematically; they are less persuasive. A happy person is less likely to discern looming threats.

And the chase itself can backfire: The more you value happiness, it turns out, the more unhappy you will become. The problem, a team of psychologists reports, is that when you focus too much on happiness, you are disappointed when happy events--your birthday party, say--don’t deliver a bigger boost. Which makes you unhappy. Reach for happiness with both hands, and it will abandon you.

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