Bertus Jeronimus: are chronically ill people more likely to be unhappy?
Are chronically ill people more likely to be unhappy?
People typically report happiness as their highest goal in life. We want a blend of positive experiences, the mental fulfillment of personal needs like autonomy, hope and meaning and to realize our potential. In the Netherlands 85% of people score their happiness with a 6 or higher on a scale of 0-10, which means they see themselves as fairly happy. According to the World Health Organization mental health requires both happiness and the absence of mental illness.
A major goal of my research is to identify ingredients for happiness, which can differ drastically between people, due to differences in personality, capabilities, significant experiences, and changing needs and aspirations across the lifespan. Next to its intrinsic value, happiness also seems to protect people against the development of chronic mental and somatic health problems and part of the suffering associated with various health problems. Interestingly, many people with severe disabilities, either chronic mental illness or somatic illness like locked-in-syndrome, find ways to cope with their situation such that their subjective wellbeing is fairly comparable to healthy controls. This process is known as the disability paradox.
Why is this important to know? Improving our understanding of the various ingredients for happiness at the individual level may inform prevention strategies to manage health and lifespan trajectories. This could help people maintain family and social connections and find meaning in what we do. A better grip on interactions between individual differences and personal strengths and weaknesses may transform future health care practices and the way we allocate societal resources.
|Last modified:||19 April 2021 4.23 p.m.|