Are Shallow People Happier At Work?

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One surprising thing about happiness? That it has such a bad reputation.

Happiness, many people assume, is boring--a complacent state of mind for self-absorbed, uninteresting people. Consider the scene in Woody Allen's movie Annie Hall, when Alvy Singer, played by Allen, asks a happy couple how they account for their happiness, and the woman answers, "I am very shallow and empty, and I have no ideas and nothing interesting to say." The man agrees, "I'm exactly the same way."

In fact, however, studies show--and experience bears out--that happiness doesn't make people complacent or self-centered. Rather, happier people are more interested in the problems of other people, and in the problems of the world. They're more likely to volunteer, to give away money, to be more curious, to want to learn a new skill, to persist in problem-solving, to help others, and to be friendly. They're more resilient, productive, and healthier. Unhappy people are more likely to be defensive, isolated, and preoccupied with their own problems.

More:Scientifically Proven Ways To Be Happier At Work

Some people are argue that it's better to be interesting than happy. But that's a false choice.

It's true that if you're trying to tell an interesting story, unhappiness makes a much easier subject. There's more conflict, more drama. Unhappy circumstances hold our attention (that's the negativity bias). But real life is different.

I often think of Simone Weil's observation, adapted for unhappiness and happiness: "Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating."

I'm not arguing that a happy life should be free from all negative emotions - not at all. I think there's great value in bad emotions. But while it might be boring to see a movie about someone's happy life, it might be nice to live through it.

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