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The Other Side of Happiness

Monday 29th January / presented by Jane Hebiton

‘In our rush to eradicate pain, we have forgotten that it is in moments of deepest despair that truth and beauty present themselves with a clarity and intensity that we would otherwise never know.’

In the modern world, we have become addicted to positivity and the avoidance of pain. In ‘The Other Side of Happiness’, internationally acclaimed psychologist Dr. Brock Bastian makes the surprising case that pain, difficulty and risk are necessary to achieve happiness. Offering an alternative to the prevailing cultural ideal that positive thinking and pursuing happiness above all else will bring us the most joy in life, Bastian provides the correction that the harder we try to be happy and eradicate all pain and suffering the more we will feel inadequate.

Drawing on psychology, neuroscience and his own work, Brock encourages us to embrace pain for fearless living, making the case that: Pain regularly occurs in the context of positive experiences. Whether it’s the challenge of completing a marathon, the reward of hard work, or the cost of helping others, painful experiences bring us joy. Pain is a short-cut to mindfulness. Studies provide evidence that pain may increase a person’s engagement with their sensory experiences. Pain brings people together and promotes cooperation. Research shows pain can be a powerful force that brings virtual strangers together into co-operative groups (not limited to cultural rituals, army training or wartime trauma). Pain builds resilience. Some stress is necessary for resilience to emerge – we are unlikely to cope if we have had few difficulties in our lives.

Dr. Brock Bastian is a social psychologist at the University of Melbourne, whose studies have been reviewed in leading news outlets such as Time Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Economist, The New Scientist, Scientific American, CNN, ABC, The Globe and Mail, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, and he has been interviewed on international radio stations including the BBC and ABC.

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