It's highly unlikely that we'll ever find a perfect definition of happiness. However, as a team lead by Dr. Maya Tamir from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has discovered, “Happiness is more than simply feeling pleasure and avoiding pain." The research was done by asking more than 2,300 university students from the United States, Brazil, China, Germany, Ghana, Israel, Poland and Singapore about the emotions they wanted to feel or felt, and compared that to how they rated their happiness.
“Happiness is about having experiences that are meaningful and valuable, including emotions that you think are the right ones to have," writes Dr. Tamir. “All emotions can be positive in some contexts and negative in others, regardless of whether they are pleasant or unpleasant.”
11 per cent of people in experiment express the wish to feel less of positive emotions such as love; 10 per cent wanted to feel more anger or other negative emotions.
For example, they might want to feel angrier when reading about child abuse, or a woman in abusive relationship might want to love the man less so she could leave him. Future test could be used to measure negative emotions like guilt, shame, fear, sadness or anxiety.
“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," Dr. Tamir said about unrealistic expectations of feeling happy all the time.