So, I have some good news and bad news. The bad news is that you’re probably not as good a person as you would like to be. The good news is that, well, pretty much no one is as good of a person as they would like to be. This is because humans, according to science, tend to find joy in some pretty unexpected (and unsavory) things.
Of course, if you think about it, this is probably something you have always known to be true. Like, you know that you should be happy when the part you really wanted in the school play goes to your friend instead of you, but, somehow, it’s hard. And, likewise, you probably shouldn’t be happy when your friend who always brags about getting all A’s without having to study ends up bombing an exam and discovering that they do, in fact, need to study. Anyway. Enough studies have been done on the phenomena of schadenfreude that it seems fair to chalk it up to simply being a part of human nature.
So, check out these weird, sorta-kinda messed up things that, despite all of your best intentions, can actually make you feel happy:
Being AngryA recent cross-cultural study that was done on 2,300 university students from the United States, Brazil, China, Germany, Ghana, Israel, Poland and Singapore found that people tend to be happiest when emotions they experienced matched those they desired. Basically, if you go out somewhere and expect to hate it, and you do hate it, you'll be happier in the long run than if you were proved wrong and actually kind fof like it. So, being angry or annoyed won't make you happy, per se, but you will feel a certain kind of satisfaction if you expected to feel angry and feel vindicated when your expectations come true. Image source: Getty
Watching A Sad MovieIf you want to boost your mood, the best way to do so, surprisingly, may be to watch a super sad movie. Like, a truly blatant emotional porn tearjerker like The Fault In Our Stars or Marley & Me. According to a study done in 2012 in Ohio, in which subjects watched the World War II tragedy Atonement, researchers found that happiness increased after viewing the movie. This, according to the study, is most likely because "life reflection that increases tragedy enjoyment as well as (b) specifically thoughts about close relationships that, in turn, raise life happiness, which (c) subsequently increases tragedy enjoyment further." Good to know! Image source: Getty
Thinking About DeathNeed a mood boost? Try grappling with your own mortality. Seriously. At least, that's according to a study published in Society for Personality and Social Psychology that had two groups of people witness someone (an actor for the study) drop a notebook by them. One group was standing by a graveyard and the other was standing by nothing in particular, and the group that was by the graveyard was more likely to return the notebook to the actor. This, according to the study, shows that "An awareness of mortality can improve physical health and help us re-prioritize our goals and values." Image source: Getty
Faking A SmileUsually, "faking it" isn't really the best way to go about one's day. But, according to a University of Kansas study in which participants were exposed to stressful situations, faking a smile boosted moods and lessened stress. So, next time you're in a stressful situation, see if you can muster up a smile. It could help! Image source: Getty
Talking To A StrangerI mean, I'm not going to tell you to go out and, like, really talk to strangers. But making small talk with the people you encounter in your daily life could make your day seem a little brighter. According study done in Chicago in which certain participants were given incentives to have a conversation with strangers on public transportation and another group didn't speak to anyone, the group that spoke briefly with strangers reported a more positive experience. (Which, it should be noted, may have had something to do with the incentive they were given for talking with a stranger more than the actual act of talking to a stranger itself.) Image source: Getty
Getting In An ArgumentYou know that feeling of, like, righteous elation you get when you're in the throes of an argument? Well, don't worry--it's not just you who feels that. A study done on mice (stay with me here) at Vanderbilt in 2008 found that the brain processes aggression as a reward, since it releases an amount of dopamine that's similar to the amount that's released when you're presented with food or sex. Image source: Getty
Rereading Your DiaryIf you keep a diary, chances are good that you don't spend that much time looking through your past entries. But, if you want to feel a little happier, it might benefit you to read through it every now and then--according to a number of studies that have been done on journal-keeping, this can help ordinary experiences feel more extraordinary over time. Basically, when you look back on your daily life, you'll find that the things you always thought of as mundane and boring have more value than you originally thought. Image source: Getty
Were you surprised by any of these things? Which ones? Let us know in the comments!