“…certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” -Thomas Jefferson

America is founded on the idea of pursuing happiness. However, research suggests when you enter a situation with the goal of being happier you actually become less happy.

In one study, participants listened to classical music and then rated their happiness. Some were instructed to just listen with no expectations, some to make themselves happy while listening, and others to constantly monitor their happiness with a dial and to try to increase it. After listening, the first group was 450% happier than the second and 750% happier than the third.

In another study, participants watched a funny movie. Half of them read an article first about the benefits of happiness. The researchers found that, because the article-reading group wanted the movie to make them happier, they did not get as happy.

Things don’t bring us as much joy when we do them in pursuit of happiness. And it is even worse if we consciously think about whether the thing is bringing us joy as we do it.

Have a great Fourth-of-July weekend! But, of course, don’t try to have a great weekend; just experience your weekend with no expectations and it might turn out great 😉


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