What Has Science Taught us About Happiness


This post has been written by Sharon Andrew, Happiness Evangelist at Happiest Minds Technologies, Bangalore.

happiness

“The science of a meaningful life’ has exploded over the past 10 years, with many more studies published each year on gratitude, mindfulness, and other core themes than we saw a decade ago” say Jason Marsh, Lauren Klein and Jeremy Adam Smith in their article: 10 Things Science Taught Us About Happiness in 2012. (http://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/10-things-science-taught-us-about-happiness-in-2012)

Three of the findings on living a meaningful life are:

Happiness is about RESPECT, not riches

Research suggests that money doesn’t buy happiness. Those who felt accepted, liked, included and welcomed were happier than those who were simply wealthier. The study (Anderson, Cameron, Kraus, Michael W., Galinsky, Adam D. and Keltner, Dacher (2012). The Local-Ladder Effect Social Status and Subjective Well-being, Psychological Science, Jul 12, Vol 23 (7), pp 764 – 771) found that happiness is strongly correlated with the level of respect and admiration we receive from our peers, which is defined as ‘sociometric status’ (as opposed to socioeconomic status). “You don’t have to be rich to be happy; but instead be a valuable contributing member to your group”.

KINDNESS is its own reward 

A study of children found that they spontaneously help people in need. They do this out of a deeply rooted concern for others and not the desire to please adults. Their kindness is motivated by deep, innatefeelings of compassion for others. (Hepach, Robert, Vaish, Amrisha, Tomasello, Michael (2012). Young Children Are Intrinsically Motivated to See Others Helped, Psychological Science, Sep 12, Vol 23 (9), pp 967 – 972). They appeared happier when they gave away a treat rather than when they received one. “Performing altruistic acts that involve some kind of personal sacrifice made them happier than helping…at no cost to themselves” (http://pss.sagepub.com/cgi/content/long/23/9/967)

euphoriaWe can train ourselves to be more COMPASSIONATE 

Stanford researcher Hooria Jazaieri and colleagues randomly assigned 100 adults to a nine-week compassion cultivation training program or to a ‘waitlist’ control condition. Participants completed surveys that measured compassion for others, receiving compassion from others and self-compassion, before and after taking the training program. Participants showed increases in compassion across the three parameters. This has far reaching implications for homes, companies and for society. (Jazaieri, Hooria et al. (2012). Enhancing Compassion: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Compassion Cultivation Training Program, Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012)

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