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by R. Bogoda

The goal of psychoanalysis, then, is to bring these unconscious forces to the surface Freud, Cognitive therapy also stresses gaining self-insight. Negative cognitions need to be identified before they can be changed e. From a sociological view it argued that self-insight is especially important in modern, multiple-choice society, since making the right choices requires that one knows what one wants and how things really feel Veenhoven, Dunning, Heath, and Suls state that a lack of self-insight might even be dangerous.

When people underestimate their susceptibility to health risks, overestimate their mastery of educational knowledge or are overconfident when making crucial business-decisions, the consequences could be immense. Yet self-insight can also be detrimental to happiness. An intriguing finding is that depressive people seem to miss the ability to deceive themselves.

Taylor and Brown have suggested that mood-enhancing distortions promote good mental health. Too much self-insight, then seems undesirable, but the positive outlook on the self by New Age advocates indicates that this risk is limited. As we have seen New Age recommends a stance of openness to the world, not actual involvement with people and organization, but rather the cultivation of a sense of connection with the universe.

Is that a sure ticket for a happier life? The available research is about real-life involvement.

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One of the findings is that intimate involvement in marriage and friendships makes life more satisfying. In this case, there is evidence of causal effects.


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Weiss, Buchanan, Altstatt, and Lombardo gave student participants the opportunity to help other students. They conclude that altruism is rewarding. Piliavin and Callero found that blood donation is beneficial. Voluntary work enhances mood Argyle, and experiments in game-theory prove that behaving well playing fairly leads to pleasant experiences as shown by MRI-scans.

There was no such reaction when the game was against a computer Rilling et al. Data about the effect of attitudinal connectivity and happiness are less abundant and do not inform us about cause and effect.

New age advice: ticket to happiness? | SpringerLink

The data suggest that the focus on connectivity is good for happiness, but empirical research is needed to determine how New Age works out in practice. Meditation and related mindfulness techniques are commonly recommended for achieving inner peace. These practices are likely to reduce stress, at least for the moment, but do they also raise satisfaction with life? There are empirical indications of several beneficial effects.

It is not farfetched to assume that this kind of concentration could also be used in other domains than sports. Some people claim that meditation should not be restricted to meditation sessions. Conscious living can be applied to life as a whole. Moreover, intensive meditation might prevent people from taking part in daily life and this could have negative implications beyond introversion itself e.

By lack of good experimental research, this issue remains undecided for the time being. As we have seen, New Age advises to look at the bright sides of life and much of its trainings aim at cultivating that stand. Like in the case of self-insight, this fits the common view in psycho-therapy, e. Hence we must assess empirically how the effects balance in practice. There is a lot of research on the matter that typically suggests that the positive effects prevail.

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Since these correlations do not prove causal effects of positive thinking on happiness, some longitudinal studies must be mentioned. Earlier positive thinking predicts happiness later on Goodhart, The bright outlook on life that New Age advocates is probably beneficial for happiness. The argument is that once you accept responsibility for what your life is like, it is easier to change it in the way you want.

This position is common currency in psychology. Mirowsky and Ross showed that the picture is somewhat complicated, however. An illusory perception of control is maladaptive and can even be linked to depression. Again the data must tell which effect dominates for the average citizen of this time. Most research findings shows distinct positive effects of an internal locus of control e.

Moreover, an internal locus of control predicts happiness in later years e. A healthy lifestyle is also commonly advised and there is good evidence that this does affect physical health and longevity. But does that make life more satisfying? There may be costs in healthy living and it has been claimed that the loss involved in renouncing the pleasures of smoking and drinking may not balance the lousy years gained. What do the available data tell?

Several studies show strong correlations between physical health and happiness e. According to Feist et al. But the other direction of causation is equally relevant. As happiness leads to better health, the effect strengthens itself.

The effects of happiness on health are comparable to not smoking Veenhoven, a, b. Still, the effect of health on happiness is not as strong as one might expect. A final point is that health is not only important in terms of its contribution to a happier life, but also in terms of a longer life. Since most people are happy, an extension of life will add to net happiness, even if happiness were to decrease a little at old age.

The New Age advice to live healthy is solid. New Age advocates a simple life, and advises against conspicuous consumption and sensation seeking. There are certainly advantages to such a constricted life-style, but it could also be boring.


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How do these effects balance on happiness? First, the theory that money is negatively correlated with happiness is incorrect.

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For poor countries, additional national income contributes to national happiness. Rich countries, however, are probably above the level at which income affects happiness. Although this supports the idea that there is a limit to what wealth can offer, there are no signs that money might have detrimental effects. Within-country studies also show a positive relation between income and happiness, although again this relation is much stronger in poor countries e. Materialistic people are on average less happy Belk, Possibly, a materialtic attitude itself is undermining our well being.

Possibly, materialistic people fail to give priority to relationships and leisure. Having possessions beyond the basic necessities, though, does not necessarily make people materialistic. Happy people, therefore, have enough money to buy them their material necessities and enough free time for important relations and meaningful activities, without developing a materialistic attitude.


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Veenhoven examined the effects on happiness of hedonistic behaviors and attitudes e. He concluded that a somewhat hedonistic lifestyle seems to contribute to a happy life, although relations might be spurious and additional happiness might be balanced by a loss in physical health. The conclusion must be that the New Age focus on the simple life is unnecessary, but the warning against the disadvantages is warranted. Again there are arguments for and against this position and we need empirical research to establish how this recommendation should be evaluated.

Yet in this case we are empty handed, since there is no good research on the matter.