Dr. Nicola McCaffrey

View Original

Why Absence Can Make More Than The Heart Grow Fonder

Like many of you I tend to binge on my favorite shows, consuming two or more episodes - sometimes entire seasons - at a time. But after a little research I’m beginning to realise that by living this way and making these choices I am cheating myself out of happiness.

New research in the field of positive psychology demonstrates that by indulging in life’s little pleasures in smaller doses, or even giving them up for short periods of time, can significantly increase our enjoyment of them.  

Perhaps not surprisingly we tend to get used to sources of happiness quite quickly and therefore take it for granted. The result being a loss of gratitude and difficulty savoring what we once were overjoyed to experience. Whilst this may seem obvious, we are generally quite unaware of this happening within our own lives. We mistakenly come to believe that the more of something we have in our life the more happiness we will experience. What the research in this area points to however is the happiness paradox, in which happiness is connected not to abundance but to our ability to recognise and appreciate what we have.

For some people the month of Lent let’s them reflect on the ideas of abundance and moderation. At a time when science and religion struggle to find a common ground, it is interesting and encouraging to see both ideologies validating the same basic, and perhaps counterintuitive, message….sometimes the key to happiness is less and not more.