I got some good news the other day. It made me happy.
But I’m trying not to get too excited. Why?
A recent study by researchers at the University College London found that expectations play a role in moment by moment happiness. Say you and a friend plan on playing golf. Just the thought of spending time with a friend and doing something that you enjoy gives you a shot of dopamine and makes you momentarily happy.
However, if you expect to play the best game of your life and then don’t, the happiness of the event will be marred. On the other hand, if you go in expecting to play an average game or even below average and you play better than average, you get a nice shot of dopamine and additional happiness. And even if your game is not going well but the last three holes are par or under par, you will feel happy.
So, there is some truth to the old maxim – the lower your expectations, the happier you will be. Likewise, even if things are not going well, if they go better than expected, you can feel momentary happiness.
I’m not saying to be a pessimist and Mr. Doom and Gloom. But it might provide us with some insight into why something we thought might make us super-dooper happy doesn’t. And also gives us hope that even in bad times, happiness is possible.
Granted the researchers were studying momentary happiness not life satisfaction, but it is food for thought. And they could even predict happiness. So if you are a math wiz, here is the mathematical equation for happiness.