The Happiness Boomerang Effect

Megan M. Fritz and Sonja Lyubomirsky | Behavioral Scientist

(The second of a two-part series. Read the first.)

One of the most poignant scenes in season two of NBC’s This Is Us is when Kevin—a former high school star quarterback and homecoming king turned failing actor struggling with addiction—returns to his hometown to receive an honored alumni award. In his acceptance speech, Kevin begins to thank his coach and parents, but, as he considers the effort these mentors invested in him, Kevin realizes just how far he has fallen and how disgraceful his behavior has been. Envisioning his deceased father on stage with him, Kevin realizes he is far from the man his father dreamed he would become. He ultimately delivers a depressing monologue about his own lack of honor, and—spoiler alert—the episode becomes a catalyst for some dangerous, rock-bottom behavior.

How and why could a genuine expression of gratitude transform into something so unpleasant?

(continue reading)

The editorial staff of ORBITER magazine humbly pursues life's Big Questions, illuminating the human condition and our place in the universe.