Those who are driven by a quest for happiness are more likely to end up feeling lonely instead, according to a study.
This is because they focus on themselves, rather than on their connections with others.
As a result, self-seeking individuals end up feeling isolated which reduces their overall sense of well-being.
Happiness can be elusive but scientists say it is tied to our connections with others
The research, published in the journal Emotion, will chime with the neurotic Sex and the City generation, who stereotypically fret about finding fulfillment.
The study authors from the University of Denver and University of California, Berkeley, said: 'Few things seem more natural and functional than wanting to be happy.
'We suggest that, counter to this intuition, valuing happiness may have some surprising negative consequences.
'Striving for happiness might damage people's connections with others and make them lonely.'
The team of psychologists carried out two experiments. The first involved 206 men and women aged from 20 to 60 who completed online surveys which assessed how much they value happiness.
Starting a week later participants filled out 14 daily diaries before going to bed, reporting the day's most stressful event, how stressful it was and how lonely they felt.
The more participants valued happiness, the more lonely they felt during the stressful events. Researchers said the result held true after controlling for factors such as age, gender and socioeconomic status.
Reconnecting with your friends can boost your sense of well-being
The second study sought to establish whether it was valuing happiness that caused greater loneliness. It involved 43 female undergraduates who watched an emotionally neutral film-clip and then rated how lonely they felt.
Some participants then read a bogus newspaper article, which emphasised the benefits of happiness on relationships, careers and overall well-being.
Participants in the control group read the same article but with the word happiness replaced with 'accurate judgment'
All then watched a 35-minute film designed to make people feel affiliation and intimacy.
The two groups did not differ in terms of feelings of loneliness at the start of the study. But after the experiment and the long film clip, the group manipulated to value happiness more reported feeling significantly greater loneliness.
The authors said: 'The current findings present a possible explanation for why a desire for happiness can lead to reduced happiness and well-being.
'It may be that to reap the benefits of happiness people should want it less'.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2287999/Those-crave-happiness-end-feeling-lonely-putting-first.html#ixzz2Md9fUEmD
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