'There is a dark side' to happiness

Happiness can have a dark side, new research has suggested. Published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, the study noted happiness should not be viewed as a universally positive concept.

June Gruber of Yale University, Iris Mauss of the University of Denver and Maya Tamir from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem found that not all types and degrees of joy are equally good.

The investigators noted the pursuit of happiness can actually make individuals feel worse about themselves.

They explained that setting a goal such as this can backfire, with Ms Gruber stating: "When you're doing it with the motivation or expectation that these things ought to make you happy, that can lead to disappointment and decreased happiness."

Professor Felicia A Huppert, Director of the Well-being Institute at the University of Cambridge, said: "There has been far too much emphasis on happiness and its pursuit. After all, happiness is a transient feeling, whereas what people desire is sustainable well-being, which is a combination of good feeling and good functioning."

"People who function well are fully engaged in what they are doing, have a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives and have positive relationships, which involve both giving and receiving support."

"Research by Canadian Professor Brian Little, currently a Visiting Scholar at Cambridge University, shows that sustainable well-being can be achieved by making progress towards personal goals."

"So according to Professor Little, what matters is not the pursuit of happiness, but the happiness of pursuit."

Recent research carried out by Lindsay Smith and Dr Nickolas Smith from the Department of Exercise and Sport Science, Manchester Metropolitan University, which was presented at the British Psychological Society's Annual Conference in Glasgow, showed that strenuous exercise can help improve a person's mood.