Checking out of the national project (4-14-22)

1 year ago

"The space between caring about stuff and taking care of people is a small one. Without caring in the first sense, it’s hard to engage in what Richard Weissbourd, a psychologist who serves as faculty director of the Making Caring Common project at Harvard, calls “the harder forms of caring”—that is, action.

Tellingly, happy people, rather than being complacent, are generally the ones engaged with the world. Sad people, generally, are busy with self-consciousness, self-awareness, self-focus. Research suggests that experiencing “negative affect”—a state that encompasses a range of bad feelings—makes people less likely to get up and do something. Even the motivation that comes from a negative feeling like righteous anger often only works if a basically happy person is hit with it, says Kostadin Kushlev, who leads the Digital Health and Happiness Lab at Georgetown.

“Being happy and feeling more energized can actually have benefits for how people conduct themselves, being concerned with other people,” Kushlev says. In surveys, “those who experienced more positive affect in the past month were actually more likely to be concerned with a variety of issues and, most importantly, they were more likely to take action to do something about it.”

So what manifests as a lack of engagement with the world may well be a symptom of an underlying unhappiness. And why might people have been unhappy at the dawn of the year 2022? Choose your own “duh.”"

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