We all pretty much accept the fact that life is a fragile gift that holds both positive and negative surprises. However, researchers of the University of Michigan suggest that it is particularly difficult for us to accept that we might stumble upon a great tragedy at some point.
As part of their study, researchers conducted five rounds of online polls in order to find whether the psychological balance of participants could be influenced by the manner they were going to bring in their minds past or future events.
They found that the easier volunteers were recalling positive experiences from their past, the happier they became. On the other hand, negative experiences were recalled in a more difficult manner, driving volunteers into sadness.
However, when participants were asked to envision future events, the intensity of feelings between joy and sadness was greater.
Specifically, researchers found that the more the volunteers envisioned positive events that could happen in the future, the happier they would feel. Instead, every one of the volunteers that was not able to envision a bright future experienced bad feelings.
“While entering the process of thinking about good things that have already occurred in our lives, the present of our life seems less happy,” explains researcher Ed O’Brien.
“As to what regards the future, people tend to think that the unpleasant incidents will not happen to them. However, it is much more difficult for them to explain where the shortage of probabilities lies when it comes to something good happening to them.”
Moreover, positive thoughts about the future must also be processed in moderation. The researchers found that when someone excesses himself in trying to envision happiness in the future, ultimately he ends up in being more … unhappy. “Specifically, when one tries to think about a whole list of 10 good things that could happen to him, he might feel much worse, compared to thinking about two good things that could happen to him, without particularly trying.”
The results of the study presented in the journal «Psychological Science».