Writing in a weekly Portfolio Strategist newsletter for Smith Barney, Tobias Levkovich says:
According to psychologist Daniel Nettie, there are six universal emotions; four of them (anger, fear, disgust, and sadness) are negative, while only one (joy) is positive. The last one (surprise) tends to be neutral. Thus, one might think that people are “hard wired” to be unhappy, yet strive for a better way. Not surprisingly, a study of 1,000 working women in Texas found that when they broke down their day into 15 episodes, they were most happy when socializing, eating, or engaging in intimate relationships, and least happy during their morning commute. Unfortunately, the happy moments are often short-lived.
More interestingly, happiness scholars (psychologists and neuroscientists who study happiness) find that there is a hedonic treadmill that makes us want more, even after we achieve goals that might otherwise make us happy. This causes us to constantly raise our aspirations — and may explain the tendency to try to “keep up with the Joneses.”
Biologists note that happiness is not simply desire nor pleasure — but requires a third essentially chemical ingredient called serotonin, which can reduce worry, stress, panic, and sleeplessness. Thus, negative emotions are hard to stamp out…