The Upside of Your Dark Side – Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener

Here are my comments on the book:

Why isn’t it good to be happy all the time? Why would you want to be angry? What are the benefits to having a “dark side”? In our search towards happiness, authors Todd Kashdan, psychology professor at George Mason University, and Robert Biswas-Diener, instructor at Portland State University, investigated these questions and outlined their reasons, with research, as to why being happy all the time isn’t as beneficial as you may believe. With anything in life, balance is the key. They propose that life shouldn’t be looked at in just black or white terms; everything in life has its place. Blend the two opposite extremes to reach the optimal outcome. Some of he points I’ve taken away are:


1. Convenience has an adverse affect on us. It would appear that convenience is making our lives easier but at the cost of our ability to be patient.The more convenient everything is, the less likely people are to engage in troublesome self-control. In places where things get done quickly, people find waiting in lines or traffic almost intolerable. To put it another way, the more comfortable your life is, the less patient you are likely to be with perceived problems.


2. Those who are prone to depressed moods are able to pick up on more subtle facial cues than their happy counter-parts.Research by Kate Harkness from Queen’s University shows that people prone to depressed moods also tend to notice more details. This is particularly true when it comes to facial expressions. Happy-go-lucky individuals take in the broad strokes – okay, you have a nose and some eyes and it looks like your eyebrows are raised. The less upbeat folks in the Harkness studies, by contrast, were eagle-eyed when it came to facial expresion, attuned to the smallest quiver of a lip or the slightest narrowing of the eyes. This is why – and you’ve probably noticed this – when you are in a fight with your romantic partner (a negative event), you read even the tiniest changes in their demeanor, things you’d never notice when you were in a good mood.


3. There are benefits to the emotional state of anger. It can help with taking greater risks, dealing with threats, spark creativity, a performance-enhancement tool, which works well as a negotiations tactic.

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4. One of the biases that we consistently face is called the “contrast bias”. Essentially, we compare events to each other. As a result of this comparing and contrasting, we are able to better gauge whether something is “better” or “worse” than a previous event. As a result, being happy all the time isn’t such a blessing.Researchers found several ways in which intense positive experiences can be costly. First is a contrast effect in which the experience of emotional highs makes other good events seem to shine less brightly. Winning a million dollars in the lottery, for instance, might make a subsequent win of one hundred dollars on an instant scratch ticket seem pretty ho-hum. Second is a carryover effect, in which people who mentally amplify their positive experiences also unwittingly amplify their negative experiences.


5. A way to increase your happiness is by practicing mindfulness. Essentially mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. “A range of studies show that people with a tendency to be mindful in daily life report greater happiness, experience more meaning and purpose in life, have superior emotional intelligence, enjoy higher levels of self-compassion, and possess an enhanced ability to cope with chronic stress.

By Ryan Lee


My rating:
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Check out the book here:
Amazon USA
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK

Thank you for reading! Please comment below on which point resonated with you the most or if you have a story to share. If not, please leave a comment below about a book that you’re currently reading or a book that you suggest and your takeaways from it as I’d love to read your comments! Please join my Facebook group here follow my Twitter here like the post, or share it.


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