您现在的位置: 纽约时报中英文网 >> 纽约时报中英文版 >> 健康 >> 正文

为什么说无欲无求才是快乐的捷径

更新时间:2019/1/9 20:42:25 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Why the quickest route to happiness may be to do nothing
为什么说无欲无求才是快乐的捷径

How do you envisage the pursuit of happiness?

你怎么看待追求快乐这件事?

For many, it is a relentless journey, and the more you put in, the more you get out. Just consider the following episode from Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling inspirational memoir Eat, Pray, Love, in which she recounts some advice from her Guru. “Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it,” she writes. “You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don’t, you will leak away your innate contentment.”

许多人都把追求快乐当作终身事业。投入的越多,收获的快乐也就越多。吉尔伯特(Elizabeth Gilbert)最畅销的励志回忆录《一辈子做女孩》(Eat, Pray, Love)中有一个著名的桥段,讲的是女主人公重新审视“古鲁”(Guru,锡克教的宗教导师)给她的人生建议。她写道:“快乐是个人努力的成果。努力坚持,满世界的寻找。你不断的为自己的信仰而战。一旦达到快乐的状态,你会不惜一切代价奋力前进,达到最高点,永远保持这种幸福的感觉。如果你不这样做,你内在的满足感就会遗失殆尽。”

While this kind of attitude may work for some, the latest scientific research suggests that it can also seriously backfire for many people – leading, for instance, to feelings of stress, loneliness, and personal failure. According to this view, happiness is best seen as kind of timid bird: the harder you strive to catch it, the further it flies away.

这种态度对部分人来说可能十分受用,但最新的科学研究表明,它跟许多人的人生态度都背道而驰了——比如,这种追求会让人压力过大、有疏离感,还会令人产生一种挫败感。若真的如这个观点所言,我们可以把幸福比作是受惊的鸟儿:越是要努力抓住它,它就会越飞越远。

These findings help to explain the familiar stress and disappointment that some feel during special events such as their birthday, Christmas or New Year’s Eve. But the research also has profound consequences for your long-term wellbeing, with some useful guidance for arranging your broader life goals.

为什么在生日、圣诞节或新年前夜等特殊的日子里,有一些人会紧张、失望?或许就是这个原因。同时,这项研究能够为人生规划提供更广泛的建议,有助于提升人们的长期快乐感。

Self-help or self-hinder?

自我救助还是自我阻碍?

Iris Mauss, now at the University of California, Berkeley, was one of the first psychologists to explore the idea scientifically.

摩斯(Iris Mauss)任教于加州大学伯克利分校,是最早系统研究快乐理论的心理学家之一。

She says she was inspired by the sheer volume of self-help books that have been published in the US in last couple of decades, many of which presented happiness as the sine qua non of existence. “Wherever you look, you see books about how happiness is good for you, and how you basically should make yourself happier, almost as a duty,” she says. But are those volumes only setting people up for disappointment?

她说,她是被过去几十年美国出版的大量自救励志书启发的。大部分书籍都会把快乐感列为生活的必要条件。摩斯说:"无论身在何处,都能看到书上说,快乐对我们有多么重要,要怎么让自己快乐起来之类。这些书都把快乐当作了一项指标。"难道这些书的目的,就是为了让人们对当下的状态失望的吗?

“People might set very high standards for their own happiness as a function of this – they may think they should be happy all the time, or extremely happy, and that can set people up to feel disappointed with themselves, that they fall short – and that could have these self-defeating effects.”

"如果把快乐的作用抬到这么高,人们很可能就会把快乐的标准上调。他们也许会觉得,必须无时无刻都感到快乐。但达到这个标准并不容易,因此会有人对自己失望。如此,这些自我救助的书其实是南辕北辙了。"

She also wondered if simply asking the question – how happy am I? – could create a self-consciousness that quashes the feelings you are trying to cultivate.

摩斯还很想知道,如果只是简单地问自己"我到底有多快乐?"——是否会产生一种个人情绪,阻碍我们到达自己追求的快乐状态?

Working with Maya Tamir, Nicole Savino and Craig Anderson, Mauss tested the idea with a series of studies. A detailed questionnaire, for instance, asked participants to rate statements such as:

摩斯与塔米娅(Maya Tamir),萨韦诺(Nicole Savino)和安德森(Craig Anderson)展开合作,通过一系列研究验证了这一想法。其中一份详细的调查问卷,要求受访者给以下的说法评分:

How happy I am at any given moment says a lot about how worthwhile my life is

无论在何时,我有多快乐都能够反映出我的人生价值

To have a meaningful life, I need to feel happy most of the time

为了过上有意义的生活,我必须在大多数时候快快乐乐

I value things in life only to the extent that they influence my personal happiness

我会很重视生活细节,细节可能影响到我个人的快乐指数

As expected, the team found that the more strongly the participants endorsed those sentiments, the less content they were with their current life.

团队的发现和预期的一致。受访者对这些说法越是支持的,他们对当前生活的满意度就会越低。

The picture was complicated by the participants’ circumstances. For people who had recently experienced stressful events such as a bereavement, say, the attitudes to happiness made no difference. So a desire to be happy won’t necessarily make you feel worse when your circumstances are genuinely tough – but it can quell the feelings of contentment that might naturally arise when times are good.

因为受访者的境况,问题变得复杂。有些人近期经历过一些事件(诸如丧亲之痛等),产生了很大压力。对于这部分人来说,他们所谓的幸福几乎一致。也就是说,如果所处的境况已经很糟糕了,那么对于快乐的向往并不会让人更加痛苦——相反地,情况有所好转了,先前的痛苦也会压制住那种自然而然产生的满足感。

Mauss and her colleagues’ next step was to see if they could manipulate people’s attitudes to alter their happiness in the short-term. To do so, they asked half their participants to read a fake newspaper article extolling the importance of happiness, while the control group read a similar article about the benefits of “good judgement”, with no reference to emotion. The team then asked the participants to watch a heart-warming film about an Olympic win, and questioned them about their feelings afterwards.

试验是否能在短期内操控人们的心态,以改变他们对快乐的态度,这是摩斯和她的同事们下一步要进行的工作。他们实验是这样的:先让半数参与者阅读一篇伪造的报道,上书幸福的重要性;剩下的一半是对照组,他们要阅读一篇关于"良好的判断力"如何有益的文章。文章本身不会带有情绪倾向。随后,团队会要求所有参与者观看一部有关于奥运会夺金的温情电影,再来询问参与者们的观感如何。

Once again, they noted an ironic effect: the film was less likely to buoy the mood of the people who had been primed to desire greater happiness, compared with the people who had read the neutral article.

团队再次发现了这个颇具嘲讽的结果:相比之下,那部分对于快乐更为渴望的参与者,看完电影后的情绪起伏较小。

It seems that reading about the happiness had raised the participants’ expectations of how they “should” be feeling when watching something optimistic and hopeful, and so they were constantly questioning how they felt. When their actual feelings didn’t reach those standards, they finished the film feeling disappointed rather than elated.

实验似乎表明了一点,一旦事先看过积极正面、充满希望的东西后,参与者对于快乐“该有的样子”的预期会变高。因此,他们会不断质疑自身的感受。如果他们的真情实感不足以达到快乐的准入门槛,看完电影会觉得失望,并不受鼓舞。

You’ve probably felt this way during a big event like a wedding, or an expensive “trip of a lifetime”: the more you wanted to enjoy every last moment, the less fun it became, whereas an unexpectedly good trip somewhere nearby may have been a far more positive experience. Mauss’s research, however, shows that this might apply to many other areas of your life.

你可能会有这样的感觉,当自己身处一场诸如婚礼的盛大仪式中,或在“一生”最豪华的旅行之中时:越是要要享受每时每刻的快乐,收获就越少。然而,有时候可能只是去附近走走,却意外成就一次美好的经历。摩斯的研究表明,这种现象可能在其他很多领域里也说得通。

Mauss has since shown that the desire for (and pursuit of) happiness can also increase feelings of loneliness and disconnection, perhaps because it causes you to focus your attention on yourself and your own feelings rather than appreciating the people around you. “Self-focus might make me engage with other people less, and I might judge other people more negatively if I perceive them to ‘mess’ with my happiness,” Mauss added.

从那时起,摩斯就发现,追求快乐却让人们更加感到孤独和疏离。这或许是因为,这种状况下人们会把注意力聚焦在自己身上,更加关注自己的想法,而不是去欣赏周围的人。摩斯说:“关注自身可能会让我减少人际交往,而且如果我觉得有人‘搞砸’了我的快乐,我可能会更加负面地评价他们。”

These effects don’t end there. Earlier this year, Sam Maglio at the University of Toronto and Aekyoung Kim at Rutgers University found another way that the conscious pursuit of happiness may backfire: by leading us to feel that time is slipping away.

影响远不止于此。今年早些时候,加拿大多伦多大学的马格里奥(Sam Maglio)和美国罗格斯大学的金(Aekyoung Kim)发现了另一种适得其反的可能:有意识地追求快乐,会让我们感觉到时间的流逝。

Like Mauss, Maglio and Kim used a range of elegant studies to pin down a causal effect, including self-reported questionnaires and interventions. One of their studies asked participants to list the 10 things that would make them happy in their life (which might be something as simple as devoting a few hours a week to be with your family). Rather than leading to feelings of optimism about the future, it caused them to be especially stressed about the limited amount of time they had to do all those things – and they were less happy as a result. This was not true if they simply listed the things that made them happy at that moment - it was the desire to increase their happiness that was the problem.

马格里奥和金同摩斯一样,他们进行了一系列设计巧妙的研究,其中包括让受访者回答开放式问卷,以及进行干预调节,意在确定因果联系。研究的一项是需要受访者列出生活中让他们开心的十件事(有的事情很简单,可能就是花几个小时陪陪家里人)。这些事情并不会起到鼓励作用,让人们更积极地面对未来。相反地,这项实验让参与者们倍感焦虑,这些事情一定得完成,而且时间有限——如此,他们感受到的幸福就会大打折扣。问题的根源并不在于他们把当下快乐的事列举出来,而是在于,他们想要获得更多快乐的欲望。

The problem, says Maglio, is that happiness is something of a nebulous and moving goal – it’s very difficult to feel that you’ve reached maximum happiness and even if you do feel content, you want to prolong those feelings. The result is that you are always left with more to do. “Happiness devolves from something pleasant that I can enjoy right now, to something burdensome that I have to keep working at over and over and over,” Maglio says.

马格里奥指出,问题的根源在于,快乐太过模棱两可,其内涵一直在发生变化。人们很难感受到自己已经到达了快乐的巅峰,即使某时某刻,确实有所满足,人们也希望这种感觉能够长长久久的。如此便会导致手头上的事情变得越来越多。马格里奥说:“快乐本可以源于当下的享受,却因持续不断的负担而离我们越来越远。”

Remember Elizabeth Gilbert’s description of “the mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it” in Eat, Pray, Love? That’s exactly the kind of thinking that, according to Maglio’s research, will actually make us less happy.

还记得《一辈子做女孩》中吉尔伯特说的“不惜一切代价奋力前进,达到最高点,永远保持这种快乐的感觉”吗?根据马格里奥的研究成果,这种说法只会让人越来越不开心。

These results should not be taken to discourage treatment for serious mental health issues such as depression: with a clinical problem, it is always better to seek professional help. And Maglio argues that the findings aren’t a reason to avoid big life decisions that really could improve your own wellbeing – such as leaving an abusive partner. Sometimes, we really do need to focus on our immediate happiness.

以上研究成果都不能针对诸如抑郁症等罹患心理疾病的人:如果患有临床疾病,最好还是寻求专业人士的帮助。马格里奥表示,调查结果也不能成为逃避重大决定的借口,因为这样的决定能够提升幸福感——例如和有虐待倾向的伴侣分手。有时候,我们确实需要关注当下的快乐。

If you aren’t facing a major life challenge, however, these effects might lead us to rethink our attitudes and behaviours. Maglio points out that social media makes us especially conscious of other people’s airbrushed lives, potentially increasing our desire to live a happier, more exciting life. He thinks we would be happier if we didn’t look to others to set our standards for what constitutes a good and meaningful life.

然而,如果生活中没有什么大的挑战,那么这些研究成果确实能够让我们重新思考自身的态度和行为。马格里奥指出,社交媒体让我们尤其能注意到其他人经过装点的生活。如此,我们可能会更加向往那种幸福、刺激的生活。他说,如果不用他人作为衡量幸福生活和人生意义的标准,我们的生活会快乐的多。

“If you are constantly reminded of your friend at this exotic location or at that fancy dinner, I think that might serve as a reminder that other people are happier than you – and kick-start that goal of happiness again,” Maglio said. “I definitely think this desire for happiness is increasing nowadays.”

马格里奥说:“如果经常去关注某个朋友又去了别的地方,或者又吃了一顿美餐,那么在我看来,可能你就会有一种‘别人过得比你好’的心理暗示——一旦有了这种暗示,就会自然而然地想要追求幸福。我认为,当今人们正越来越渴望快乐。”

Mauss, meanwhile, points out that a lot of research has found that people who take a more “accepting” attitude to negative feelings – rather than constantly trying to fight them as the enemy of our wellbeing – actually end up more satisfied with their life over the long-term. “When you are striving to be happy, you may become judgemental and unaccepting of negative things in your life… you almost berate yourself for feelings that are incompatible with happiness,” she says. For these reasons, she advises adopting a more stoic attitude to life’s ups and downs, in which you accept bad feelings as fleeting events rather than trying to eliminate them entirely.

同时,摩斯指出,很多研究表明,更加愿意包容负面情绪的人,即并不把负能量当作快乐死敌的,恰是长期以来都对生活更加满足的那批人。她说:“一旦你努力地寻求快乐,可能会变得非常爱评判,厌恶生活中负面的事情,然后你会因生活中的不美好而苛责自己。”基于以上的原因,她建议人们对生活的起伏采取更加坚忍的态度,人们需要接受随时会来的负面情绪,而不是试图消灭它们。

None of this is to deny that some small tricks – such as keeping a “gratitude journal” and practicing kindness to others – do increase your wellbeing, particularly if they cause you to recognise your contentment in the here and now. (See our feature: A 10-minute exercise to boost happiness.) But don’t expect a huge, immediate lift in your mood, and try not to keep on questioning how you are feeling.

写"感恩日记"或者对他人抱有善意——这些都是小技巧而已。但不可否认的是,这些技巧确实能够提升个人幸福感,立刻能够带来某种满足的情绪。(参见影片:如何在十分钟里提升幸福感。)但千万别指望这些窍门能快速让心情有大幅好转,也不要质疑自己的真实感受。

Happiness really is like a timid animal. And once you stop chasing it, you might just find that it appears naturally of its own accord.

幸福就像一个胆小的动物。一旦你停止追逐它,你就会发现,幸福会变会自然而然地到来。

“全文请访问纽约时报中文网,本文发表于纽约时报中文网(http://cn.nytimes.com),版权归纽约时报公司所有。任何单位及个人未经许可,不得擅自转载或翻译。订阅纽约时报中文网新闻电邮:http://nytcn.me/subscription/”

相关文章列表