Why difficult times can actually be important to our happiness
A psychologist at the University of Central Lancashire is reporting that adversity gives our lives more meaning. Dr. Lowri Dowthwaite says that going through difficult times can make people more resilient and help them appreciate the good times more.
Dr. Dowthwaite revealed her argument in an article for The Conversation. She wrote: “Recent research indicates that psychological flexibility is the key to greater happiness and well-being. For example, being open to emotional experiences and the ability to tolerate periods of discomfort can allow us to move towards a richer, more meaningful existence.”
The article highlights the ideas of Dr. Martin Seligman, who is a leading authority in the growing field of positive psychology. He believes that a life of meaning and engagement in both good and bad times can lead to higher life satisfaction. “Learned optimism” is Dr. Seligman’s concept that pleasure and happiness can be learned and cultivated.
“Importantly, happiness experts have argued that happiness is not a stable, unchangeable trait but something flexible that we can work on and ultimately strive towards,” wrote Dr. Dowthwaite. She suggested that Dr. Seligman’s concept of life satisfaction simply requires a positive mindset and an optimistic outlook for the future.
Dr. Dowthwaite explained that living a happy life is not about avoiding hard times, but rather about “being able to respond to adversity in a way that allows you to grow from the experience.” She pointed out that unpleasant experiences can actually lead to deeper levels of joy.
“Research shows that experiencing adversity can actually be good for us, depending on how we respond to it,” said Dr. Dowthwaite. “Tolerating distress can make us more resilient and lead us to take action in our lives, such as changing jobs or overcoming hardship.”