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What Doesn't Kill You... Makes You Happier

Update Date: Dec 09, 2013 03:33 PM EST
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What doesn't kill you makes you happier, new research suggests. Psychologists found that painful experiences help promote people's ability to enjoy positive ones.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia and Barcelona School of Management, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, found that people who have lost a loved one or gone through a divorce are more likely to appreciate life's small pleasures.

The latest study involved 14,986 adults who were asked to report whether they've been exposed to painful experiences like bereavement and divorce. If participants answered yes, they were asked if they were still struggling with the event or if they had emotionally dealt with it.

Afterwards, participants were presented with six positive scenarios like going on a hike or looking at a waterfall. The study wanted to see if participants' past experienced affected the way they processed positive experiences.

The findings revealed that participants got over painful experiences were significantly more able to appreciate the positive scenarios.

"Individuals who had dealt with more adversity in the past reported an elevated capacity for savoring," researchers wrote.

However, the findings revealed that those who were still struggling with hardship were less likely to savor positive events.

The findings were published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

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