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幸福感源自内心?其实不然

更新时间:2017-11-1 12:40:41 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Happiness Is Other People
幸福感源自内心?其实不然

In a particularly low moment a few years back, after arriving friendless and lonely from Britain to live in the United States, I downloaded a “happiness app” onto my phone. It was surprisingly hard to choose one. There were close to a thousand bliss-promising options in the app store — ones that would teach you to meditate or be grateful, or that would send you photomontages of sunsets and puppies or unfeasibly flattering shots of your loved ones (giving you a moment to temporarily ignore your actual, less attractive loved ones.)

几年前,孤身一人从英国搬到美国后,无依无靠的我在某个情绪极为低落的时刻往手机上下载了一个“幸福应用”。选出这样一个应用的困难程度高到超乎想象。应用商店里有上千个承诺给人带来幸福的选项——它们会教你如何冥想或心怀感恩,会给你发送日落和小狗的照片集锦,或者被美化到不可思议的亲人的照片(让你暂时忘却现实中没那么高的颜值的亲人。)

The app I eventually chose messaged me every hour or so with a positive affirmation that I was supposed to repeat to myself over and over. “I am beautiful,” or “I am enough.” The problem was, every time my phone buzzed with an incoming message, I would get a Pavlovian jolt of excitement thinking an actual person was trying to contact me. “I am enough,” I would snarl bitterly upon realizing the truth, unable to shake the feeling that, without friends or community, I really wasn’t.

我最终选择的应用每隔一小时左右就会发来信息,对我进行积极的肯定,都是我该反复对自己说的话。“我很美”,或者“我很满足”。问题是,每当手机在收到新信息的时候嗡嗡作响,我就会条件反射般地激动一下,以为有一个真实的人试图联系我。弄清真相后,我会很不是滋味地嘟哝出“我很满足”,却无法挥去这样一种感觉:没有朋友和社群,我真的并不满足。

“Happiness comes from within,” said the inspirational photo-card in my Facebook news feed a few days later, the loopy white meme-font set against a backdrop of a woman contorted into a yoga pose so tortuous it looked as though she might actually be investigating her own innards trying to locate her bliss.

“幸福感源自内心,”几天后,出现在我的Facebook信息流中的一张励志图片卡如此说。那白色的米姆字体有点儿呆,背景是一个女人拗出瑜伽姿势的图片,其肢体扭曲得极为厉害,看上去就好像她其实是在探查自己的五脏六腑,竭力找出幸福所在之处。

Having spent the last few years researching and writing a book about happiness and anxiety in America, I’ve noticed that this particular strain of happiness advice — the kind that pitches the search for contentment as an internal, personal quest, divorced from other people — has become increasingly common. Variations include “Happiness is determined not by what’s happening around you, but what’s happening inside you”; “Happiness should not depend on other people”; and the perky and socially shareable “Happiness is an inside job.” One email I received from a self-help mailing list even doubled down on the idea with the turbocharged word mash-up “withinwards,” (although when the subject heading “Go Withinwards” landed in my inbox I briefly thought it was an ad for a nose-to-tail offal restaurant.)

过去几年间,我在美国致力于研究与幸福和焦虑有关的问题,并就此写了一本书。我注意到,这种特别的关于幸福的建议——把追寻满足感定位为一种向内的、个人化的探求,与其他人无关——已经变得越来越随处可见。与其大同小异的包括:“幸福并非取决于你周围发生了什么,而是取决于你的内心发生了什么”;“你的幸福不该由他人决定”;还有那句颇为神气、很容易在社会上流传开去的“幸福是内心的感受”。来自某自励自助邮件列表的一封电邮,甚至以强悍的合成词“withinwards”(内部深处)来着重强调该理念(不过,当我看到邮件主题“Go Withinwards”[探寻内部深处]的时候,一度以为这是在给一家彻头彻尾的内脏类餐厅打广告。)

In an individualistic culture powered by self-actualization, the idea that happiness should be engineered from the inside out, rather than the outside in, is slowly taking on the status of a default truism. This is happiness framed as journey of self-discovery, rather than the natural byproduct of engaging with the world; a happiness that stresses emotional independence rather than interdependence; one based on the idea that meaningful contentment can be found only by a full exploration of the self, a deep dive into our innermost souls and the intricacies and tripwires of our own personalities. Step 1: Find Yourself. Step 2: Be Yourself.

在以自我实现为动力的个人主义文化中,幸福感应该自内而外而非自外而内地产生的理念,正慢慢变成世人默认的真理。这种幸福被设定为自我发现之旅,而不是与外界打交道的天然副产品;这种幸福强调情感上的独立,而非相互依赖;其所基于的理念是,要获得有意义的满足,只能全力探索自己的内心,深入灵魂深处,认清我们个性当中的复杂和敏感。第一步:发现自己。第二部:做自己。

This isolationist philosophy is showing up not just in the way that many Americans talk about happiness, but in how they spend their time. People who study these things have observed a marked increase in solitary “happiness pursuits” — activities carried out either completely alone or in a group without interaction — with the explicit aim of keeping each person locked in her own private emotional experience.

这种孤立主义哲学不仅显现在很多美国人谈论幸福的方式中,还通过他们如何打发时间彰显出来。研究此类问题的人发现,独自“追寻幸福”的情况明显增加——行动时不是孤身一人,就是身处没有互动的群体中——显然旨在把每个人圈定在自己的私人情感体验里。

Spiritual and religious practice is slowly shifting from a community-based endeavor to a private one, with silent meditation retreats, mindfulness apps and yoga classes replacing church socials and collective worship. The self-help industry — with its guiding principle that the search for happiness should be an individual, self-focused enterprise — is booming, with Americans spending more than $1 billion on self-help books a year to help guide them on their inner journeys. Meanwhile, “self-care” has become the new going out.

灵修和宗教实践正慢慢从一种以社群为基础的活动,变成一种私人活动,静谧的冥想静修院、正念应用程序和瑜伽课堂,取代了教堂里的社交聚会和集体礼拜。自励自助产业蓬勃发展,其指导思想为:追寻幸福应该是一项私人的、专注于自我的事业。美国人每年会花超过10亿美元购买自励自助类书籍,让其为自己的内心之旅提供指引。与此同时,“自我照护”(self-care)成为了新形态的走出去。

But while placing more and more emphasis on seeking happiness within, Americans in general are spending less and less time actually connecting with other people. Nearly half of all meals eaten in this country are now eaten alone. Teenagers and young millennials are spending less time just “hanging out” with their friends than any generation in recent history, replacing real-world interaction with smartphones.

但在越来越强调进入内心深处追寻幸福的时候,美国人用于与他人真正交往的时间越来越少。目前,这个国家将近半数的餐桌前只有一个用餐者。少年人和年轻的千禧一代用来和朋友“闲荡”的时间比不久前的任何一代人都少,智能手机取代了真实世界中的互动。

And it’s not just young people. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Time Use Survey shows that the average American now spends less than four minutes a day “hosting and attending social events,” a category that covers all types of parties and other organized social occasions. That’s 24 hours a year, barely enough to cover Thanksgiving dinner, and your own child’s birthday party.

不只是年轻人。美国劳工统计局(Bureau of Labor Statistics)开展的时间利用调查显示,普通美国人现在平均每天花不到四分钟“主持或参与社交活动”,这里的“社交活动”涵盖了所有类型的派对,以及其他有组织的社交场合。算下来一年是24小时,几乎不足以覆盖感恩节晚餐和自家孩子的生日派对。

The same time-use data also allocates another, broader category to “socializing and communicating,” a designation that includes not just the good stuff — the heart-to-heart with an adoring spouse, or setting the world to rights with a dear friend over a bottle of wine — but any kind of socializing and communicating at all between two adults, where this is their main activity rather than an incidental part of something else, like working. All in all — and that includes daily bouts of nagging, arguing and whining — the average American spends barely more than half an hour a day on social communication. Compare that to time per day spent watching television (three hours) or even “grooming” (one hour for women, and just over 44 minutes for men).

同样的时间利用数据,还对“交际和沟通”做了另一种更宽泛的界定,其中不只包括让人愉悦的事情——与热情的配偶进行心与心的交流,或者与好友边品葡萄酒边高谈阔论——还包括两个成人之间任何类型的交际和沟通,这被视为他们之间的主要活动,而非工作等其他任何活动可有可无的组成部分。算上所有这些——包括日常的唠叨、争论和抱怨——普通美国人每天仅仅花半个多小时进行社会交往。不妨将其与每天看电视的时间(3小时)甚至是“梳洗打扮”的时间(女士为1小时,男士只有44分钟多一点)比较一下。

Self-reflection, introspection and some degree of solitude are important parts of a psychologically healthy life. But somewhere along the line we seem to have gotten the balance wrong. Because far from confirming our insistence that “happiness comes from within,” a wide body of research tells us almost the exact opposite.

反省、内观和一定程度的孤独,是健康的精神生活的重要组成部分。但到了某个点以后,我们似乎会打破平衡。因为大量研究非但没有证实我们秉持的“幸福感源自内心”的理念,还透露出几乎完全相反的信息。

Academic happiness studies are full of anomalies and contradictions, often revealing more about the agendas and values of those conducting them than the realities of human emotion. But if there is one point on which virtually every piece of research into the nature and causes of human happiness agrees, it is this: our happiness depends on other people.

关于幸福的学术研究充斥着不合情理和矛盾之处,更多地揭示了开展研究的那些人的日程和价值观,而非人类情绪的真实状况。但如果有一种观点几乎得到了关于人类幸福感本质和源头的所有研究的一致认可,那一定是:我们的幸福有赖于他人。

Study after study shows that good social relationships are the strongest, most consistent predictor there is of a happy life, even going so far as to call them a “necessary condition for happiness,” meaning that humans can’t actually be happy without them. This is a finding that cuts across race, age, gender, income and social class so overwhelmingly that it dwarfs any other factor.

一项又一项研究都表明,良好的社会关系是幸福生活的最强大最可靠的预示物,它们甚至更进一步,称之为“幸福的必要条件”,这意味着没有良好的社会关系,一个人就无法真正感到幸福。这一结论适用于有着任何种族、年龄、收入和社会阶层的人,令其他影响因素相形见绌。

And according to research, if we want to be happy, we should really be aiming to spend less time alone. Despite claiming to crave solitude when asked in the abstract, when sampled in the moment, people across the board consistently report themselves as happier when they are around other people than when they are on their own. Surprisingly this effect is not just true for people who consider themselves extroverts but equally strong for introverts as well.

研究显示,如果想要幸福,我们就应该切实致力于减少独处的时间。尽管回答抽象的问题时,人们声称喜欢孤独,但实时抽样结果表明,所有受访者一致表示,他们和其他人待在一起时比独处时更幸福。出乎意料的是,这种效应不仅适用于认为自己外向的人,它同样适用于认为自己内向的人。

What’s more, neglecting our social relationships is actually shockingly dangerous to our health. Research shows that a lack of social connection carries with it a risk of premature death comparable to that of smoking, and is roughly twice as dangerous to our health as obesity. The most significant thing we can do for our well-being is not to “find ourselves” or “go within.” It’s to invest as much time and effort as we can into nurturing the relationships we have with the people in our lives.

另外,忽视社会关系真的会严重危及我们的健康。研究显示,缺少社会交往引发的过早死亡风险可与吸烟比肩,给健康带来的风险约为肥胖的两倍。我们为自身的健康能做的最重要的事,不是“发现自我”或“探寻内心”。而是在生活中尽可能多地投入时间和精力,培育我们和其他人的关系。

Given all that, the next time you have the choice between meditating and sitting in a bar with your friends complaining about meditation class, you should probably seriously consider going to the bar, no matter what your happiness app says.

有鉴于此,下一次面对冥想抑或和朋友坐在酒吧里吐槽冥想课这两个选项时,你或许应该认真考虑去酒吧,不管你的幸福应用怎么说。

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