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T-minus 7 days, as our nation staggers toward the merciful end of the election of 2014-2016 (yes, it has gone on that long and the next one will likely be longer). It’s one for the record books: the Republicans descended into chaos as their reality TV star candidate did what such folks do, while the Democrats fielded their most defeatable candidate since Chester Woodfield in 1816 (totally fictitious person, but you get the idea), and she now appears poised to take the White House and perhaps the Senate. The leading candidate is currently “Isn’t there anyone else?”

I am grateful for the upgraded entertainment value of the whole fiasco (2012 was fairly dull), and I keep reminding myself that the country has survived far worse traumas than this one; remember the national 55 mph speed limit?? AOL dial-up?? The Spice Girls?? But one week from today, roughly half the voters in the country will be on the losing end of the vote (I suspect we have collectively lost something this go round, but that’s another story), and for some people that is a huge deal when it comes to happiness.

Here’s what the research tells us, courtesy of Ben Rowen at The Atlantic.

  1. Voters who lose are genuinely unhappy, often more unhappy than after major traumas like a terrorist bombing in their city, but they recover fairly quickly. So give your losing friends a few days to recover.
  1. Voters who lose the election also lose a little bit of faith in the system, and this loss seems to accumulate over time; vote for losers long enough and you may conclude the whole system is rotten. Maybe the solution is to wait and decide who you like after the election is over…
  1. One study suggests that you can avoid these negative outcomes by simply refusing to play the game; negative decisions are easier to accept when someone else makes them, plus this sets you up for four years of self-righteous, “Well I didn’t vote for that one….”

So should you should just burn your registration card and sit it out, knowing that regardless of how bad it gets you were not responsible? Probably not. For most of us, feeling like we are in control, at least to a small degree, is a key element of happiness. So do your research, vote for the candidate of your choice (or choose not to vote), and be at peace with what you have chosen. And keep it all in perspective; in my experience the people who are the most obsessed with politics tend to be among the least happy, regardless of how the election ends.

So how do you cope? Is politics an unhappiness trigger in your life? Share your thoughts below.

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