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  • Rachel Crawford

The Happiness Paradox (Mauss)

A popular paradox is the “happiness paradox.” (Mauss)

The paradox here is that, abit lying trying desperately to get to sleep tends to keep us awake, trying hard to be happy tends to make us sad. The more we pursue happiness the faster it runs away

It is better to pursue things that have happiness as a byproduct rather than the sole aim (also why scaling ‘happiness’ is often counterproductive, better to scale the description of the thing that has happiness as a byproduct).

This is often called Paradoxical Intention, and, for some, it’s a therapy model.

This model believes in challenging fear.

In insomnia people often fear of not being able to get enough sleep.

If we try too hard to fall asleep it actually makes it harder to fall asleep.

Paradoxical intention therapy say instead of fighting sleeplessness, embrace wakefulness as a way of breaking the cycle of anxiety.

The paradox is that the more you try to stay away the easier it is to sleep.

David Newton called this the ‘try not to think about an elephant ’ concept because it’s true that trying to suppress a negative thought tends to make it stronger.

‘I mustn’t think about that!’ isn’t as effective as ‘look over there at the sparkly thing/tree/dog’ - or whatever distraction works for you.

Paradoxical Sleep. This paradox describes the way the brain is more active when we are asleep than when we are awake. Paradoxical sleep is another way of describing REM sleep, when most dreaming occurs.

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