The fourth impediment in the way of happiness is the authoritative nature that we tend to possess. This tends to be a big obstacle in the path to happiness. Authoritative nature refers to the tendency to have control over the things around you. As parents, we tend to control our kids’ behavior. As employees, we tend to control our subordinates. And in life, we tend to control our closed ones.
The main reason behind the tendency to be authoritative behavior is that we tend to feel superior when we can control things. This temporary feeling of superiority makes us happy for some time. The sense of freedom and autonomy makes us happy for short-term. The emotional health and longevity of an average person depends a lot on the sense of autonomy.
The people who have more control over the things around them are found to live longer. This is the reason why humans have an inherent desire to control everything around them. However, there is a certain limit to what all we can control. Being overly controlling makes us unhappy as well. The excessive authoritative behavior can prove to be deleterious to our happiness levels.
Psychologists call this desire to do something that we are forbidden to do as ‘psychological reactance’. This term explains that when we seek to control others, the others exhibit the same kind of psychological reactance from them. Our attempts to control people may be reciprocated with resentment. For instance, the attempt to control your employee may result in complacence and negative attitude of the employee in the workplace. Or the attempts to control the life of our spouse may result in estrangement or divorce as well. Hence, being overly controlling reduces love between people and hence, lowers happiness.
When people don’t behave the way we want them to do, it leads to power stress. For instance, when playing video games, if the character in the game does not perform as expected, we tend to grow angry. Anger leads to heightening of anxiety and it leads to unhappiness. Power stress can make us unhappy and hence, can lead to depression.
Moreover, the absence of diversity around us also leads to gloom. Being overly authoritative repels people with diverse skills and thoughts. Only the submissive people will stay with us and their opinions are not going to add value to your life. Without meaning, any experience is futile and can lead to unhappiness.
It does not mean that we should become submissive. A little degree of control is good, but too much of authoritative nature is detrimental for us.