‘It’s just that the failures don’t write books’
Just because I read this great article ‘Happiness is a glass half empty’ by Oliver Burkemann for The Guardian.
An great article about that it’s our relentless effort to feel happy, or to achieve certain goals, but that this fact is precisely what makes us feel miserable. Some great paragraphs from the article:
1) Another problem with our reluctance to think about or analyse failure – whether our own or other people’s – is that it leads to an utterly distorted picture of the causes of success. Bookshops are stuffed with autobiographical volumes such as the one released in 2006 by the multimillionaire publisher Felix Dennis, entitled How To Get Rich: The Distilled Wisdom Of One Of Britain’s Wealthiest Self-Made Entrepreneurs. It’s an entertaining read, conveying a similar message to many of the others: that to make a fortune what you need is stubbornness and a willingness to take risks.
But research by the Oxford management theorist Jerker Denrell suggests that these are just as likely to be the characteristics of extremely unsuccessful people, too. It’s just that the failures don’t write books. You rarely see autobiographies of people who took risks that then didn’t work out.
2) Over the last few years, the German-born psychologist Gabriele Oettingen and her colleagues have constructed a series of experiments designed to unearth the truth about “positive fantasies about the future”. The results are striking: spending time and energy focusing on how well things could go, it has emerged, actually reduces most people’s motivation to achieve them.
3) Psychologists have long agreed that one of the greatest enemies of human happiness is “hedonic adaptation” – the predictable and frustrating way in which any new source of pleasure we obtain, whether it’s as minor as a new electronic gadget or as major as a marriage, swiftly gets relegated to the backdrop of our lives: we grow accustomed to it, and it ceases to deliver so much joy. It follows, then, that regularly reminding yourself that you might lose any of the things you currently enjoy can reverse the adaptation effect. Thinking about the possibility of losing something you value shifts it from the backdrop of your life back to centre stage, where it can deliver pleasure once more.
4) Incremental-theory people are different. Because they think of abilities as emerging through tackling challenges, the experience of failure has a completely different meaning for them: it’s evidence that they are stretching themselves to their current limits. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t fail.
5) But the deeper point is that possessing an incremental outlook is a happier way to be, whether or not it leads to any outstanding success
6) Perfectionism is one of those traits that many people seem secretly, or not-so-secretly, proud to possess, since it hardly seems like a character flaw. Yet, at bottom, it is a fear-driven striving to avoid the experience of failure at all costs. At the extremes, it is an exhausting and permanently stressful way to live: there is a greater correlation between perfectionism and suicide, researchers have found, than between feelings of hopelessness and suicide.