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Why are we scared to be happy?

Tue, Feb. 6, 2018
CAIRO - 6 February 2018: For starters let us clarify what cherophobia is; it means the irrational fear of being happy or in other words ruining your own happiness. “Chero” is a Greek root that means to rejoice. When a person suffers from cherophobia they don’t participate in activities that would make them happy because they don’t want to feel that bitterness of frustration and disappointment when happiness eventually subsides. Studies showed that introverts are the most likely to suffer from cherophobia.

Cherophobia is different to depression. Depression is characterized is being extremely sad and a feeling of emptiness, while cherophobia is avoiding or dismissing activities that would make you happy or be fun. Individuals suffering from cherophobia gave four reasons: happiness is a waste of time and effort, being happy means something bad will happen shortly after, happiness makes you a bad person, and it is unfair to show happiness while others are suffering.

A 2013 study published in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology has proved that there’s a strong correlation between fear and happiness. It has been also found that this fear of happiness is promoted in fourteen cultures and is passed down from generation to generation. It mainly depends on how those cultures conceive happiness and their beliefs around the idea.

These cultures support beliefs such as: “with the very desire for happiness, out of delusion they destroy their own well-being as if it were their enemy,” from the point of view of Buddhists.

Furthermore, it is commonly believed in Russia that people who pursue success and happiness commonly have immoral goals and seek other’s envy and resentment; hence, Russians believe that it is best not to show happiness.

Due to cherophobia not being yet studied in great detail, it only has a few treatments. The ones available at the moment include relaxation strategies such as deep breathing, cognitive behavioral therapy which helps in identifying and changing faulty lines of thinking, and finally consistent exposure to happiness as mean to prove that misfortune is not always round the corner.
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