smiles.jpgIn the past few months, I’ve gotten 151 emails from PR sources with the word “happiness” placed prominently. Either they were pitching a book about career happiness, or a study on workplace happiness, or they had an expert who could offer advice on finding happiness at work.

Recent books in those “happy” emails: “The Seed: Finding Purpose and Happiness in Life and Work“; “The Happiness Advantage“, “Bliss Every Day: A Guide to Find Peace and Happiness,” and “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose.”

And I got an email last month from a sweet woman I met in New York a while back named Karen Salmonsohn that said: “Be patient. Your rainbow is coming.”

Happiness seems to be everywhere in the career space. You can’t go twenty minutes on Twitter without someone tweeting a famous quote or a saying about happiness; and there are whole companies that offer services to employers to make workers happy. An employee’s happiness is supposedly tied to a company’s bottom line. Who knew.

Companies could save some money on these happiness gurus by just paying workers what they’re worth and treating them like human beings. But I digress.

All this happiness is sort of bumming me out. That’s why I was so excited when I heard a respected mental health expert on the radio this morning dogging all the happiness hype.

“The Dark Side of Happiness” was the topic of today’s “Voices In The Family” show on WHYY, my local NPR station hosted by Dr. Dan Gottlieb.

“Too much of it could be a sign of mental illness, and the relentless pursuit of it is self-centered and a futile journey anyway,” he said.

He went on to say:

“Thousands of self-help books tell us how to find it…phone apps allow us to track it. The psychology of being happy has been a hot topic in mental health for quite some time. But now, there are some dark clouds on the blissful horizon. New research in the field of positive psychology shows happiness in the wrong time or place can lead to social difficulties.”

Maybe we should be rethinking our pursuit of career happiness and just concentrate on living our lives. I know, it’s American to pursue happiness but is today’s happiness hullabaloo what our forefathers intended?

From the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

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