Of all the daily vexations that life generously provides, the problems of excessive happiness are probably not among them.
Even the concept that pushing the limits of joy might bring its own dangers is one few people were aware of.
But apparently some unfortunate individuals are really out there on cheerfulness’ ecstatic boundaries – perhaps it’s the ones you see clapping in time to music and high fiving strangers; the ones you assumed were just a bit simple.
And this extreme absence of “downside” may be problematic.
The Oxford Happiness test, developed by two Oxford psychologists, is apparently a good way “to get a snapshot of your current level of happiness.”
One then makes comparisons in the future to see if you are more or less cheerful than before.
The test is very simple: 29 questions that require neither much thought, nor the handing over of email addresses and dates of birth so that they can subsequently bombard you with unwanted sales pitches.
And for once, those doing best in a test are not going to be the most delighted, as that score puts them in the “too happy” bracket.
This is a problem, because according to the authors, “Recent research seems to show that there’s an optimal level of happiness for things like doing well at work or school, or for being healthy, and that being “too happy” may be associated with lower levels of such things.”
Amazingly, the internet agrees.
This piece in Time says “if you already think everything is terrific, you won’t be motivated to make improvements”
(Brilliantly, it also says “low performers” are the happiest and most engaged at work, and that “these workers were utterly clueless about how bad they were at their jobs.”)
This piece in the Washington Post delivers the crushing discovery that “Too much happiness can make you unhappy.”
And even worse is to follow.
“Why trying to be happy all the time may be dangerous,” is the grave warning from the Independent.
Any further investigation into this alarming topic should perhaps be conducted at the reader’s own risk.
A closer look at the Oxford test, however, reveals that to get into the perilous “too happy” red zone, you’d need to give every question a top score, which would more likely imply a) mild personality disorder or b) that you hadn’t understood the instructions properly.
And for everyone suffering from anxiety, depression and the various other mental ailments that have placed the population in such a death grip, don’t be thinking people at the other end of the scale have it so easy either.