How to be happy why pursuing happiness will make you unhappy

Be honest. Have you ever looked in the mirror and wondered why you’re not happy?

You’re not alone.

“Life is not what I expected,” a friend told us last week. “My husband and I both have educations. We both have jobs that pay well. We have nice things and take great trips. But, sometimes we both just want to run away from it all—do something more meaningful.”

Our friend’s comments resonated with us, as it’s not the first comment like this that we’ve heard from friends recently. In fact, feeling ‘not happy’ might be more common than you think. A Harris poll of 2,345 U.S. adults used a series of questions to determine Americans’ levels of contentment and life satisfaction. According to the results, a dismal 33% of Americans said that they were very happy. A poll by Time showed a slightly better response, reporting that 59% of their respondents said they were happy most of the time. That’s a better number, but it still leaves 40% of us without a smile.

So, what’s up? Why, in a nation that entitles us to the pursuit of happiness are so many people not feeling that energized spirit? Why aren’t more people feeling the passion for life?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Based on all the research we do on the workplace, we had a hunch when we began discussing the topic of happiness. We wondered, how closely is feeling happy connected to the notion of feeling valued and appreciated—at home and at work? Do our efforts, actions, and thoughts need to serve a purpose, give us meaning, or create an impact in someone else’s life in order to make us happy?

We recently interviewed bestselling author Tom Rath (author of the successful Strengths Finder 2.0) about his brand new book titled Are You Fully Charged? Rath mentioned during the interview that the concept of ‘pursuing happiness’ backfired. That statement made us curious to find out more.

“Most of the people I’ve spoken with personally, do have the opportunity to engage in meaningful pursuits on their own time,” Rath told us. “However, when I asked people about the meaningfulness of their work each day, they struggle. This is concerning, considering the fact that most people spend the majority of their waking hours dedicated to being full-time workers, students, parents, or volunteers.”

Recent Gallup research on this topic, makes Rath’s finding even more concerning. The poll asked workers across the United States if their lives were better off because of the organization they worked for. The response, about the organization that feeds your family and puts shoes on your feet, was, without question, shocking. “A mere 12% of respondents claimed that their lives were significantly better due to the company they worked for,” said Rath. And, sadly, the vast majority of employees felt their company was a detriment to their overall health and well-being.”

We then asked Rath, “Don’t these statistics prove that we, as a nation and culture, need to pursue happiness even more?”

“It’s actually the opposite,” says Rath, “if your pursuit of happiness is for yourself. In fact, scientists are still uncovering the reasons why the pursuit of personal happiness backfires. Part of the explanation lies in its self-focused nature. Research suggests that the more value you place on your own happiness, the more likely you are to feel lonely on a daily basis. In fact, there’s strong negative physiological reactions in the body when humans pursue happiness for themselves. When participants in experiments were told to read articles that persuaded them to find happiness, samples of saliva indicated corresponding decreases in progesterone levels, which is a hormonal response associated with loneliness.”

“…and if we pursue happiness for other people?” we asked.

“That’s where you find something magical, called meaning,” Rath replied. “Think about the people you know. The people who seemingly exude joy and happiness are those who seem to put other’s needs, or a bigger purpose above their own needs.”

Rath paused. It was almost as if we could hear him thinking. “Be warned though, putting another person’s needs before your own can feel like a short-term decrease in your own happiness. But, it’s short and eventually your contribution improves the entire environment.”

Interestingly, research from The Great Work study showed similar findings, but with a different outcome. For those of you reading this and wondering if shifting your intention from yourself to others to increase your level of happiness, will impact your productivity or results at work, you can rest easy. An analysis of 1.7 million cases of work, throughout various professions and industries, showed that 88% of work projects that win awards begin when someone asks the question, “What difference could I make that someone else will love?”

“It’s a mindset shift,” concluded Rath. “A small shift that can improve your life.”

We agree. How does this sound? “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for others.”

Three ways to stop the chase and start the fulfillment.

How to be happy why pursuing happiness will make you unhappy

As the Happyologist, a happiness coach who earns her livelihood from helping people be happy, I should encourage people to chase happiness. But I can’t. Why? Because it’s the chase that is making people unhappy. And that’s a truth we can no longer ignore.

The chase is making people anxious. It’s making people overwhelmed. It’s making people feel pressure that they have to be happy, all the time. This is a big problem, but luckily it’s a solvable one.

A lot of the anxiety and pressure around happiness come from societal misunderstandings about what happiness is. These misunderstandings drive us to unknowingly chase happiness out of our lives, rather than welcoming it in. And they make it hard for us to recognize happiness when it actually hits us, because we are so busy looking for something else.

I want to debunk three of the most common myths around happiness—and offer you the science-based truths. It’s these truths that will help you to stop the chase and welcome in the joy.

Myth 1: Happiness is the absence of negative emotions.

This myth is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to your happiness. Happiness is not about being happy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Happiness is not about always smiling, laughing, and being joyful. Happiness is not about being numb to negative feelings.

The truth: Happiness is having the full human experience, including positive and negative emotions.

To have the full human experience, you need to experience the full range of human emotions—the good and the bad, the positive and the negative. They both play a vital role in your survival and ability to thrive. Positive emotions make you feel good and tell you when things are right. Negative emotions might make you feel uncomfortable, but they also shine a light on things that are wrong and alert you to take action to correct them. Don’t shy away from the negative emotions, because they are like a compass guiding your way. Simply learn to manage them in an effective way, so they don’t overpower the positive ones.

Myth 2: Success fuels happiness.

I don’t remember a time in my life when society was more obsessed with success than today. It’s all about being the best, making more money, and becoming well known. But none of these things, ironically, fuel your happiness. Study after study has shown that winners aren’t happier than losers. Yes, they may have a sense of achievement when they win, but they quickly go back to the baseline happiness level they had before. Equally, as long as your basic needs were already covered, having more money or being famous definitely do not make you happy either.

Truth: Happiness fuels success.

If we focus on our mental, physical, and spiritual health and well-being, the type of success we actually want will naturally follow. If you focus on having a calm mind and a present being, you will feel less stressed, and you’ll be more productive. If you focus on moving your body and nourishing it with nutrients, you will feel more energetic and joyful. Finally, if you focus on living a life that is meaningful to you, fulfillment will follow.

Myth 3: There is one formula for happiness.

Too many assume we all want the same things in life—and therefore need the same things in life to be happy. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Every one of us is a completely unique being. That means that each person will need to create their own unique life that is right for them to be fulfilled.

Truth: There is no one-size-fits-all for happiness.

You might be happiest as a director in a big corporation. Or you might be happiest as a one-(wo)man-show entrepreneur. Or you might be happiest as a stay-at-home parent. There is no right or wrong, because only you know what is right for you. When in doubt, just ask yourself these two questions:

1. What gives you hedonic happiness—the momentary joy, pleasure, and contentment in your life?
2. What gives you eudaimonic happiness—a sense of meaning, purpose, and fulfillment that makes you whole?

As long as you have a good balance of these two in your life, happiness will be there.

Moving forward, strive to eliminate these myths from your thinking, and replace them with these truths. They will help you to take a breath and to slow down, and to naturally welcome a balanced, fulfilling type of happiness into your life.

As the poet Hafiz said, “Ever since happiness heard your name, it has been running through the streets trying to find you.”

Our imperative is happiness. We have a right to be happy, or so we think. Especially in America, the pursuit of happiness is seen as a birthright, a covenant we sign with life from our first cry. Happy people smile from magazine covers; merry models make even impotence and incontinence look delightful.

“To the European it is a characteristic of the American culture that, again and again, one is commanded and ordered to ‘be happy,’” psychiatrist Viktor Frankl observed in his international bestseller Man’s Search for Meaning. “But happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue.”

There is a counterpoint to this relentless promise of happiness: If you are suffering, something must be wrong with you. Snap out of it! Or at least take it elsewhere. Even the rally cries (“God only gives you what you can handle”) carry a hidden undertone of “It’s your fault if you can’t handle it.” As if suffering were a blemish we could wipe away if only we tried hard enough.

If I had one free wish at the fairy booth, I’d use it to make the entire world happy. But according to a study published by the American Psychological Association, the pressure to be happy actually makes people verifiably unhappy. A society infused with the expectation to experience happiness can be quite merciless toward those who despair. Then we’re not only unhappy, but “also ashamed of being unhappy,” Frankl wrote. “It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness.”

Cultivating an optimistic outlook is a fabulous asset that has proven to positively affect our health and inner strength. These benefits are real. But beware: Forcing optimism on anyone, including yourself, to mask true feelings accomplishes nothing.

The tyranny of positive thinking is everywhere, and the exuberant cries of sales personnel and well-meaning life coaches to cheer up might have quite the opposite effect. Repeating affirmative phrases — “I’m happier and happier” — while refusing to deal with the mess underneath can be just another version of denial. Before we can overcome suffering, we need to go through it. The way beyond suffering leads through, not around.

Acknowledging facts of life, being truthful about what we can handle, engaging in honest self-reflection, and asking for and accepting help is part of developing a resilient mindset. While a positive outlook is definitely a big joker in this wild ruckus called life, glossing over difficulties is not.

There is a difference between happiness — temporarily having our needs and goals satisfied — and meaning — finding and fulfilling our life’s purpose. Florida State University psychologist Roy Baumeister found that negative life events tend to decrease happiness but increase meaning.

Forty percent of Americans say they do not have a purpose in life. I find this number startling. Not having a purpose in life has a direct impact on our well-being, our health, even our life expectancy. If we don’t know what we’re here for, what are we doing here? This is one of the avenues of post-traumatic growth: suffering reduces our happiness, at least temporarily, but it often sets us on the path to finding meaning, and thus ultimately, a different, deeper kind of well-being. We obviously don’t need suffering to find our calling, but it happens to be where we often discover it. “In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice,” Viktor Frankl realized. “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”

Last medically reviewed on November 2, 2015

Summary: A new study reports those who actively pursue happiness often feel as they don’t have enough time in the day to achieve their goals, resulting in them feeling less happy.

People generally like to feel happy, but achieving a state of happiness takes time and effort. Researchers have now found that people who pursue happiness often feel like they do not have enough time in the day, and this paradoxically makes them feel unhappy. Aekyoung Kim of Rutgers University in the US and Sam Maglio of the University of Toronto Scarborough in Canada have investigated this effect in a study in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, which is published by Springer and is an official journal of the Psychonomic Society.

Kim and Maglio conducted four studies in which they investigated how the pursuit of happiness as well as the state of being happy influenced people’s perception of time. Pursuing happiness caused the participants to think of time as scarce.

In the studies, some participants were either instructed to list things that would make them happier or asked to try to make themselves feel happy while watching a dull movie about building bridges, thus demonstrating happiness as goal pursuit. The other participants came to think of happiness as a goal that they had already accomplished, achieved by watching a slapstick comedy (rather than the bridge movie) or listing items showing that they are already happy. Afterwards, all participants reported how much free time they felt they had.

The researchers’ main findings showed that a person’s perception of time scarcity is influenced by their pursuit of (often unattainable) happiness. The feeling that time was scarce lessened for participants who maintained that they had attained their goal of being happy to some degree.

“Time seems to vanish amid the pursuit of happiness, but only when seen as a goal requiring continued pursuit,” explain the researchers. “This finding adds depth to the growing body of work suggesting that the pursuit of happiness can ironically undermine well-being.” According to the researchers, the findings imply that while happiness can impair positive emotions, it need not necessarily do so. Instead, if someone believes they have achieved happiness, they are left with the time to appreciate this, for instance by keeping a gratitude journal. The research further underscores that people have different concepts about happiness, which in turn may well influence how they perceive the time they have to achieve happiness.

The researchers’ main findings showed that a person’s perception of time scarcity is influenced by their pursuit of (often unattainable) happiness. The feeling that time was scarce lessened for participants who maintained that they had attained their goal of being happy to some degree. NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.

“Because engaging in experiences and savoring the associated feelings requires more time compared with merely, for instance, buying material goods, feeling a lack of time also leads people to prefer material possessions rather than enjoying leisure experiences,” the researchers continue, who say that feeling pressed for time often also makes people less willing to spend time helping others or volunteering. “By encouraging people to worry less about pursuing happiness as a never-ending goal, successful interventions might just end up giving them more time and, in turn, more happiness.”

The two researchers believe that given the influence that time availability has on people’s decision-making and well-being, it remains essential to understand when, why, and how they perceive and use their time differently in their pursuit of happiness and other goals.

Our imperative is happiness. We have a right to be happy, or so we think. Especially in America, the pursuit of happiness is seen as a birthright, a covenant we sign with life from our first cry. Happy people smile from magazine covers; merry models make even impotence and incontinence look delightful.

“To the European it is a characteristic of the American culture that, again and again, one is commanded and ordered to ‘be happy,’” psychiatrist Viktor Frankl observed in his international bestseller Man’s Search for Meaning. “But happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue.”

There is a counterpoint to this relentless promise of happiness: If you are suffering, something must be wrong with you. Snap out of it! Or at least take it elsewhere. Even the rally cries (“God only gives you what you can handle”) carry a hidden undertone of “It’s your fault if you can’t handle it.” As if suffering were a blemish we could wipe away if only we tried hard enough.

If I had one free wish at the fairy booth, I’d use it to make the entire world happy. But according to a study published by the American Psychological Association, the pressure to be happy actually makes people verifiably unhappy. A society infused with the expectation to experience happiness can be quite merciless toward those who despair. Then we’re not only unhappy, but “also ashamed of being unhappy,” Frankl wrote. “It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness.”

Cultivating an optimistic outlook is a fabulous asset that has proven to positively affect our health and inner strength. These benefits are real. But beware: Forcing optimism on anyone, including yourself, to mask true feelings accomplishes nothing.

The tyranny of positive thinking is everywhere, and the exuberant cries of sales personnel and well-meaning life coaches to cheer up might have quite the opposite effect. Repeating affirmative phrases — “I’m happier and happier” — while refusing to deal with the mess underneath can be just another version of denial. Before we can overcome suffering, we need to go through it. The way beyond suffering leads through, not around.

Acknowledging facts of life, being truthful about what we can handle, engaging in honest self-reflection, and asking for and accepting help is part of developing a resilient mindset. While a positive outlook is definitely a big joker in this wild ruckus called life, glossing over difficulties is not.

There is a difference between happiness — temporarily having our needs and goals satisfied — and meaning — finding and fulfilling our life’s purpose. Florida State University psychologist Roy Baumeister found that negative life events tend to decrease happiness but increase meaning.

Forty percent of Americans say they do not have a purpose in life. I find this number startling. Not having a purpose in life has a direct impact on our well-being, our health, even our life expectancy. If we don’t know what we’re here for, what are we doing here? This is one of the avenues of post-traumatic growth: suffering reduces our happiness, at least temporarily, but it often sets us on the path to finding meaning, and thus ultimately, a different, deeper kind of well-being. We obviously don’t need suffering to find our calling, but it happens to be where we often discover it. “In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice,” Viktor Frankl realized. “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”

Last medically reviewed on November 2, 2015

If you’re only pursuing happiness, you’re doing it wrong.

How to be happy why pursuing happiness will make you unhappy

Q. Can chasing happiness actually be making me unhappy?

We are constantly reminded of the benefits of being happy: Happy people are more successful, have better sex, have more friends, have better bodies—the list goes on. While evidence supports the overall benefits of happiness, research shows that the more we think about happiness and how to pursue it, the less likely we are to find it.

For one, being told how important it is to be happy can lead to feelings of disappointment. Constant analysis of how happy you are undermines the ability to actually experience it. Ordinary moments that don’t deliver extraordinary joy feel like a failure. Another downside of relentlessly pursuing happiness is that it makes people lonely. An emphasis on the individual and on personal gain damages our connections with others. As author Parker Palmer once pointed out, “No one ever died saying, ‘I’m sure glad for the self-centered, self-serving, and self-protective life I’ve lived.’”

It’s when we contribute to the world and are of service to others that we discover something far more important than moment-to-moment happiness: a sense of meaning and purpose. Today, social pressure to feel happy (and broadcast it on social media) is intense. I have met patients concerned something is wrong with them because they are not happy most or all of the time. What I tell them is to focus less on the pursuit of happiness and more on the pursuit of goodness. Everything else will fall into place. Eleanor Roosevelt said it best: “Happiness is not a goal, it is a by-product.”

Dr. Samantha Boardman is a clinical instructor in psychiatry and an assistant attending psychiatrist at Weil Cornell Medical College in New York and the the founder of positiveprescription.com.

This story originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of Marie Claire.

How to be happy why pursuing happiness will make you unhappy

23 Mar When the Pursuit of Happiness is Actually Making You Unhappy

People generally like to feel happy, but achieving a state of happiness takes time and effort. Research has found that people who pursue happiness often feel like they don’t have enough time in the day, and this paradoxically makes them feel unhappy.

How to be happy why pursuing happiness will make you unhappyA study in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, investigated how the pursuit of happiness, as well as the state of being happy, influenced people’s perception of time. Some participants were either instructed to list things that would make them happier or asked to try to make themselves feel happy while watching a dull movie about building bridges. This made them think about happiness as a goal they tried to pursue. Other study participants came to think of happiness as a goal that they had already accomplished. They watched a slapstick comedy (rather than the bridge movie) or they listed things that are already making them happy. Afterwards, all participants reported how much free time they felt they had.

Pursuing happiness caused the participants to think of time as scarce. The researchers’ main findings showed that a person’s perception of time scarcity is influenced by their pursuit of (often unattainable) happiness goals. For participants who felt that they had achieved their goal of being happy to some degree, the feeling that time was scarce decreased.

But, time seemed to vanish during the pursuit of happiness when people saw happiness as a goal they had to continuously chase after. The research further underscores that people have different concepts about happiness, which influence how they perceive the time they have to achieve it. This adds to the growing body of research suggesting that the pursuit of happiness can ironically undermine well-being. However, this study shows that believing that we have achieved some happiness is tied to feeling like we have more time to appreciate it.

Given the influence that time availability has on people’s decision-making and well-being, it remains essential to understand when, why, and how we use our time in pursuing happiness and other goals. Engaging in experiences and savoring the positive feelings associated with them requires more time than maybe buying yourself something new. So feeling a lack of time ends up leading us to use less effective options like material possessions to make ourselves happy instead of enjoying meaningful experiences. Feeling pressed for time also makes people less willing to do things that promote positive emotions like spending time helping others or volunteering.

Worrying less about pursuing happiness as a never-ending goal might just end up giving us more time and more happiness. Sounds like a good reason to get out your gratitude journals and list all the things that are making you happy right now!

Researchers show that aiming to achieve happiness can affect your perception of time

Heidelberg | New York, 12 March 2018

People generally like to feel happy, but achieving a state of happiness takes time and effort. Researchers have now found that people who pursue happiness often feel like they do not have enough time in the day, and this paradoxically makes them feel unhappy. Aekyoung Kim of Rutgers University in the US and Sam Maglio of the University of Toronto Scarborough in Canada have investigated this effect in a study in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, which is published by Springer and is an official journal of the Psychonomic Society.

Kim and Maglio conducted four studies in which they investigated how the pursuit of happiness as well as the state of being happy influenced people’s perception of time. Pursuing happiness caused the participants to think of time as scarce.

In the studies, some participants were either instructed to list things that would make them happier or asked to try to make themselves feel happy while watching a dull movie about building bridges, thus demonstrating happiness as goal pursuit. The other participants came to think of happiness as a goal that they had already accomplished, achieved by watching a slapstick comedy (rather than the bridge movie) or listing items showing that they are already happy. Afterwards, all participants reported how much free time they felt they had.

The researchers’ main findings showed that a person’s perception of time scarcity is influenced by their pursuit of (often unattainable) happiness. The feeling that time was scarce lessened for participants who maintained that they had attained their goal of being happy to some degree.

“Time seems to vanish amid the pursuit of happiness, but only when seen as a goal requiring continued pursuit,” explain the researchers. “This finding adds depth to the growing body of work suggesting that the pursuit of happiness can ironically undermine well-being.” According to the researchers, the findings imply that while happiness can impair positive emotions, it need not necessarily do so. Instead, if someone believes they have achieved happiness, they are left with the time to appreciate this, for instance by keeping a gratitude journal. The research further underscores that people have different concepts about happiness, which in turn may well influence how they perceive the time they have to achieve happiness.

“Because engaging in experiences and savoring the associated feelings requires more time compared with merely, for instance, buying material goods, feeling a lack of time also leads people to prefer material possessions rather than enjoying leisure experiences,” the researchers continue, who say that feeling pressed for time often also makes people less willing to spend time helping others or volunteering. “By encouraging people to worry less about pursuing happiness as a never-ending goal, successful interventions might just end up giving them more time and, in turn, more happiness.”

The two researchers believe that given the influence that time availability has on people’s decision-making and well-being, it remains essential to understand when, why, and how they perceive and use their time differently in their pursuit of happiness and other goals.

Reference: Kim, A. & Maglio, S.J. (2018). Vanishing Time in the Pursuit of Happiness, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review DOI: 10.3758/s13423-018-1436-7

About the journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, an official journal of the Psychonomic Society.

For further reading about this study, please see the Psychonomic Society’s blog​​​​​​​.

Services for Journalists

The full-text article is available to journalists on request.

Adriana Lopez Upegui | Springer Nature | Communications

T he Declaration of Independence guaranteed Americans the right to pursue happiness, and we haven’t stopped looking for it since. But despite the college courses, research labs and countless self-help books dedicated to that search, only 33% of Americans actually said they were happy in a 2017 survey.

A new paper may help explain why: We’re trying too hard.

The research, published in the journal Emotion, found that overemphasizing happiness can make people more likely to obsess over failure and negative emotions when they inevitably do happen, bringing them more stress in the long run.

“Happiness is a good thing, but setting it up as something to be achieved tends to fail,” explains co-author Brock Bastian, a social psychologist at the University of Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences in Australia, in an email to TIME. “Our work shows that it changes how people respond to their negative emotions and experiences, leading them to feel worse about these and to ruminate on them more.”

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How to be happy why pursuing happiness will make you unhappy

Thank you!

The study involved two separate experiments. In the first, a group of Australian psychology students were asked to solve 35 anagrams in three minutes — but, unbeknownst to them, 15 couldn’t be solved. Thirty-nine of the students completed this task in a room decorated with motivational posters, notes and books. The proctor in this room was also told by the experimenters to speak cheerfully, and to off-handedly mentioned the importance of happiness. Meanwhile, another 39 students completed the same test in a neutral room, with a neutral proctor. A third group of 38 students completed a solvable task in a room that emphasized happiness similarly to the first room.

Afterward, the researchers asked all students to do a breathing exercise, during which they were periodically asked about their thoughts. Compared to the other two groups, students who performed the impossible task in the “happiness room” were more likely to think back to their failure and get stuck on these negative thoughts, which was in turn associated with feeling more negative emotions. Those who completed the impossible task in the neutral room and those who completed the solvable task in the happiness room did not differ significantly in how much they thought back to the exercise.

In a second experiment, the researchers asked about 200 American adults how often they experienced and thought about negative emotions, as well as their views on how society perceives those emotions. Participants who said they felt like society expects them to be happy, or looks down on emotions such as anxiety and depression, were more likely than other respondents to stress about feeling negative emotions, and to experience reductions in well-being and life satisfaction as a result.

“When people place a great deal of pressure on themselves to feel happy, or think that others around them do, they are more likely to see their negative emotions and experiences as signals of failure,” Bastian says. “This will only drive more unhappiness.”

Bastian says the study isn’t a condemnation of trying to be happy; rather, it underscores the importance of knowing and accepting that feeling unhappy sometimes is just as normal and healthy.

“The danger of feeling that we should avoid our negative experiences is that we respond to them badly when they do arise,” Bastian says. “We have evolved to experience a complex array of emotional states, and about half of these are unpleasant. This is not to say they are less valuable, or that having them detracts from our quality of life.”

In fact, recent research has suggested that experiencing negative emotions can ultimately boost happiness, and another new study finds that stressful or unpleasant situations may help people process bad news. Bastian also adds that failure can be invaluable for learning and growth.

“Failure is critical to innovation, learning and progress,” he says. “Every successful organization knows that failure is part of the road to success, so we need to know how to respond well to failure.”

Doing so will likely take a culture change. A society that embraces messy emotions and experiences, Bastian says, is one that is poised for better mental health.