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Archive for December 6th, 2007

Another profoundly unhappy young adult or youth has caused unfathomable tragedy and sadness.

An individual or small group, almost always male, unleashes a torrent of violence and death that stretches far beyond the brief, but widespread notoriety that ensues. Left in its wake is the very simple observation — we seem to be at a loss as to how to stop or prevent it.

But there are clues, even if only breadcrumbs.

The Omaha young man was apparently depressed, and he had recently lost two important satisfaction resources — his job and girlfriend. There were also apparently familial conflicts and self-esteem issues. Life had no meaning. In other words, many of the things that help make the rest of us happy or satisfied (even if minimally) were missing — gone. Combine those elements with the desire for notoriety and the access to weapons and we have the perfect recipe for disaster.

Reasonably satisfied or happy young adults are less likely to randomly kill strangers. Perhaps that is where we need to look harder for answers and solutions.

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Everybody experiences failure. It’s as natural and common as breathing air. But happier people seem have a different approach to life’s bruises than their less happier peers. They get over it.

In a series of experiments, researchers tested students in terms of how they handled tasks. Once the task was completed — regardless of the outcome — the researchers had the students evaluate their moods and self-confidence.

They discovered that after experiencing some kind of failure, happy people tended not to engage in negative self-reflection and were able to perform subsequent tasks without dwelling. The reverse was true for less happier people. Researchers surmise that a poor performance by less happy people led to them digging up memories of other past failures, thus further depressing the moods and self-confidence in them and impairing their present concentration and performance.

In other words, even though happy people experience failure like everyone else, they “resist giving failure more than its due amount of contemplation, thus compartmentalizing and limiting their disappointment.”

Source: The Art of Living by Dispositionally Happy People by Allison Abbe, Chris Tkach and Sonja Lyubomirsky

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