I think it’s a pretty universal idea that people seek out happiness in their lives. There’s nothing wrong or selfish about that, even though some people think there are things more worthwhile than the pursuit of happiness. Happiness is a core human emotion that keeps us going, and to deny the importance of happiness is to deny part of the human condition that makes us who we are. The World Health Organisation is increasingly emphasising happiness as a component of health – happiness matters!
Why happiness does matter
Research indicates that happy people are more successful across multiple life domains including marriage, friendship, income, work performance, and health. So, whilst happiness doesn’t just make us feel good, people who are happy engender success. That is, it isn’t success that creates happiness, it is happiness that creates success. Most people assume that it is success that makes people happy. The research indicates that happiness, rooted in personality and in past successes, leads people to approach behaviours that often lead to further success. It also found that happy people are able to react with negative emotions when it is appropriate to do so.
Other researchers from the University of Warwick found that happiness makes people more productive at work. The researchers carried out a number of experiments to test the idea that happy employees work harder. To test the theory, participants were either shown a comedy movie clip or given free chocolate, drinks and fruit. Other participants were asked questions about recent family tragedies, such as bereavements, to assess whether lower levels of happiness were later associated with lower levels of productivity. The results showed that happiness made people around 12% more productive.
The researchers say that happier workers use their time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality. This is a huge reason for companies to invest in well being programs for their staff.
Different research shows that companies with high levels of employee satisfaction tend to outperform the market.
Happiness helps us function better individually and in a work context, and helps society as a whole.
There is a link between happiness and the avoidance of risky behaviours. For example, research shows that people who are happier are more likely to wear seat belts and less likely to be involved in car accidents. Happier people are also found to save more, spend less, and have more control over their expenditure. Happier people also expect a longer life, and are therefore more concerned for the future than the present.
So there is a compelling case for the pursuit of happiness, the scientific evidence is clear.
I’ll share with you a study that I just love. It’s about the spread of happiness between people. The research from Harvard indicates that “the relationship between people’s happiness extends up to three degrees of separation (for example, to the friends of one’s friends’ friends). People who are surrounded by many happy people and those who are central in the network are more likely to become happy in the future.” This means that if you’re happy, it makes your friends happier, and it makes their friends happier, and in turn their friends happier! It’s as though happiness is contagious. That’s very powerful, don’t you think?
The researchers conclude that “People’s happiness depends on the happiness of others with whom they are connected. This provides further justification for seeing happiness, like health, as a collective phenomenon.”
Can you see that happiness benefits not only yourself, but others too? This can create benefits for communities and society.
Practicing gratitude can increase our happiness
Rather than focusing on what we don’t have, focusing on what we do have and what we’ve achieved in our lives can change our mindset and open us up to happiness.
The secret to this is gratitude. What are you grateful for, and how do you show your gratitude to others?
Gratitude shows appreciation for others, is humbling and makes you feel good – not to mention how good it makes others feel. Everyone likes to feel appreciated and worthwhile. It doesn’t take very much to show your appreciation. Here are some ways you can show gratitude:
- Say a heartfelt thank you.
- Acknowledge when they do something well.
- Acknowledge that you enjoy their company.
- Write them a note. Handwritten notes are even more special.
- Show that you are there for them – don’t just say it, show it.
- Do them a favour with no expectation of anything in return.
- Give them encouragement.
- Find out more about them, genuinely listening and wanting to hear about their experiences.
- Give out hugs. They are free and wonderful and reduce stress.
- Give genuine compliments.
- Celebrate their achievements.
- Share your skills and knowledge to help them.
- Give them your full attention.
- Be supportive.
These are all things that are easy to do and can mean so much to people.
At a community level, you can also volunteer. This is an awesome way of showing your gratitude to the community. The community gets something out of your efforts, and so do you. The benefits of volunteering are well-known.
Some gratitude journals and books
Gratitude journals can be a great way to help us consider what we are grateful for. If you don’t have a gratitude journal, jotting down a few things that you are grateful for is a great way to begin or end your day.
Teaching children to show gratitude from a young age is very powerful. Giving your kids a gratitude journal is a wonderful way for them to appreciate what they have, and help to bring them back to a place of thanks for what they have rather than what they don’t have.
Here are some gratitude journals and books. You can click on the images if you’d like to purchase the books.
Brighten your day with this colorful journal from happiness expert Karen Salmansohn. This wonderful book is packed with 365 happiness prompters including motivational quotes, scientific studies, and thought-provoking questions. This journal amps up your ability to notice (and create) moments of joy and gratitude in your life one day at a time.
The Gratitude Habit
This gratitude journal and workbook can be used to help train your mind to keep things in perspective and focus on the many gifts and blessings that fill each day.
Gratitude Journal for Kids – 365 Days of Gratitude
This is a 365 Day Gratitude Journal that helps children to write down what they are grateful for everyday. A Gratitude Journal is a great way to teach kids how to appreciate life, family and the world around them. This journal is designed to help kids write down things they are grateful for and draw a picture when words are not enough.
Some final thoughts on happiness and gratitude
Gratitude is key ingredient in the secret of happiness. Happiness does matter, and there is scientific research that shows when we are happier, we are more successful, and those around us also feel happier as a result of our happiness. Happiness is important to your physical and mental health, and your resilience. Your personal happiness is important to the happy quotient of the entire world.
Here are some inspirational happy quotes to give you a lift.
Leave me a comment or a question below and I’m always happy to help!