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Negative feelings

You're not alone: How underestimating others' negative feelings can increase your own

Saturday, April 09, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: negative feelings, research, health news

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(NaturalNews) Do you ever feel like everyone else is always having fun and enjoying life while you feel dull and uninteresting? Or perhaps you sometimes feel as though you are the only one with any real problems while everyone else's life is a skate in the park? A new study out of Stanford University has found that many people tend to underestimate the problems and pain that others feel while amplifying their own, which can lead to excessive and unnecessary negative feelings, and even depression.

Alexander H. Jordan and his colleagues surveyed various groups of college students to see how their perceptions of others shaped their own feelings. More often than not, students said they had more bad or negative feelings when in private than in public, and more good or positive feelings when in public than in private. And nearly half the time, students admitted to hiding their true, negative feelings from their peers, which gives the impression to others that things are going better than they really are.

Researchers also found that most students perceive their classmates and friends as being happier than they really are. They see their peers' Facebook status updates and photos, for instance, and assume that their friends are having non-stop fun all the time, while they themselves often feel bored or lonely. So their own negative feelings begin to escalate as they feel more and more isolated in their own reality.

But little did these same students know that many of their friends felt the same way about them. More often than not, students had a false impression of their friends and peers, assuming based on external things like public attitude and Facebook statuses that their lives were better than their own. Ironically, many of the students shared these common negative feelings based on the same common false perceptions.

The findings give new insight into the "grass is always greener on the other side" phenomenon, especially in light of online social networking. Others may seem as though they are having more fun than we are, but odds are they feel the same way we do. So simply remembering that other people share this common reality just might be the right prescription for maintaining happiness and contentedness no matter how things seem.

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