What if we told you that you could find out how to be happier by feeling more anger... and hatred? Well, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association, that may be a real possibility.
Researchers surveyed approximately 2,300 university students from multiple countries like the United States, Brazil, China and Germany. The study asked these international participants what emotions they desired to feel and what emotions they actually felt, and then had them rate their overall happiness and satisfaction with their lives.
Surprisingly enough, the results showed that overall happiness is "more than simply feeling pleasure and avoiding pain." Instead, the study suggested that people were overall much happier if they were able to feel the emotions that they desired to feel. And sometimes, it could feel pretty good for these people to feel bad.
"If you feel emotions you want to feel, even if they're unpleasant, then you're better off," lead researcher Dr. Maya Tamir said.
In fact, 10 percent of people in the survey admitted to wanting to feel more negative emotions. At first glance, that sounds pretty perplexing. But Tamir has an intriguing theory as to why that might be — focusing on an extreme example.
Tamir said, "Someone who feels no anger when reading about child abuse might think they should be angrier about the plight of abused children, so want to feel more anger than they actually do in that moment."
Dr. Anna Alexandrova, from the University of Cambridge's Wellbeing Institute, added that this study sheds a new light on how people perceive happiness. She said the research also challenges the idea that happiness is simply a matter of feeling more positive emotions than negative ones.
"People want to feel very good all the time in Western cultures. Even if they feel good most of the time, they may still think that they should feel even better, which might make them less happy overall," she said.