Hugh Pickens writes: "University of Virginia psychology professor Shigehiro Oishi has just completed a study on how people from East Asia and the United States respond to daily events in life and found that Koreans, Japanese, and Asian-Americans, are less happy in general, but recover their emotional equilibrium more readily after a setback than European-Americans. Oishi and his colleagues had more than 350 college students in Japan, Korea and the United States record their general state of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with life over a three-week period , as well as the number of positive and negative events they had during the course of each day. "We found that the more positive events a person has, the more they feel the effects of a negative event," Oishi said. "People seem to dwell on the negative thing when they have a large number of good events in their life." The researchers found that the European-Americans needed nearly two positive events (such as getting complimented or getting an A) to return to their normal level of happiness after each negative event, such as getting a parking ticket or a lower grade than expected. The Koreans, Japanese and Asian-Americans generally needed only one positive event to make up for each negative event. Oishi's research also provides a window into why very few people are very happy most of the time. Getting to "very happy" is like climbing an ever steeper mountain. Additional effort — positive events — doesn't gain you much by way of altitude. Slipping backward, on the other hand, is very easy. Oishi's advice: "Don't try to be happier.""
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