What is happiness? From the dawn of civilization, people have always asked for three things in order to live a happy life – Money, Fame, and Image. Not health, but money! This always blows my mind. But this couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to finding happiness.
Through hundreds of surveys and studies on the topic of happiness, scientists and researchers have found that what people ask for the most has absolutely nothing to do with what actually make them live a happy life ever after.
Before I reveal what those three things leading to a happy and healthy life are I just want to emphasize on that they sit in the very core of the happiness and it is up to you NOT to make up or put yourself in thousands of situations that will make you unhappy.
And finally, what turned out to be the key to happiness is Love, Friendship and Generosity. They are all interconnected and each thing includes the other two. Unfortunately, I can’t think of a word that combines them all. Maybe Aloha 🙂 .
Happy Life Through GENEROSITY
I can’t even begin how many studies have been done on this topic. People are pretty much focused on what they want to have and not on what they can give on a daily basis, not knowing how much their well-being can benefit from it.
It is no coincidence that generosity is the core pillar of every religion. The simple philosophy behind this is that through helping you become a better person. That is true but according to science, there’s a way more complicated explanation of how giving affects your levels of happiness.
Recently two studies conducted in different parts of the world showed the same results (the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania and the University of Zurich in Switzerland). The researchers did an experiment with a group of people where they were given a small amount of money and offered them a choice to donate it, to help someone they know with it or to keep it to themselves. After that, the researchers performed a functional MRI scan to measure the activities in the brain.
What happened is that nothing much changed with the people who kept it in comparison with those who donated or helped a friend with it.
The expected results were:
– A boost in happiness levels
– A boost in altruistic levels
The unexpected result was:
– A huge decrease in anxiety and depression levels
So, it turned out that giving acts as an anti-anxiety pill.
I also want to point out the relevance of the infamous phrase “Give and you shall be given”, which should not always be understood literary: give money, get money. According to many philosophies including Law of Attraction, the concept of Yin and Yang in Chinese philosophy and many others, there should always be a balance in life. Based on that theory you should always get exactly how much you give.
If you donate money, it doesn’t mean that you should expect to recieve money from somewhere. The increased levels of happiness come from the satisfaction of you helping others.
That being said, more and more studies show that generosity is addictive and infectious. The more you give, the more you want to give. That is absolutely logical, because if it is proven that it makes you happier why wouldn’t you do it more!
The interesting observation is that a person’s acts of generosity make other people want to give and help more.
How to live a happy life without money
Now if you are moneyless and feel like there’s no way you can help others, don’t worry. As it turned out, according to Dr. Robert Waldinger from Harvard University, giving money is one of the least effective ways to boost your happiness.
The most important gift someone can give is without a doubt their TIME.
Here are some examples of acts of generosity:
Happy Life Through LOVE
I am not going to talk about people falling or being in love, because that’s a whole different psychological phenomenon. But for the sake of mentioning it, I just want to point out that being in love and to love are two completely different things. The first one last only from 3 to 6 months. That’s when the levels of your happiness hormones are really high and basically, all you want is to have sex all the time. Once the feeling of being in love is gone, everything comes back to normal and either the love deepens or you fall out of love.
Now, I want to talk about long-term love and not only love for your partner, but for everything else out there. Honestly, there’s an infinite number of different love – love for your family, for your friends, for your pet, love for nature, music, art, for what you do etc. Basically, it can be summed up to anyone and anything you have relations with. But the most important relationship of all is the one with yourself.
The love you give to yourself determines how happy you are. If you are happy with yourself, the more you will want people around you to be happy. The more happy people around you, the happier you will be. It is kind of a never-ending cycle.
Acts of love are the same as acts of generosity. If you feel love, you WILL want to give. It will come naturally from within.
In addition to everything listed above you can include two very important things:
– Say “I love you” more often to yourself, family, friends, children, pets etc.
– Give hugs! – It is scientifically proven that hugging makes you healthier and happier. A long hug reduces stress, releases happiness hormones, put people in a better mood and acts as a painkiller.
And finally, here are the results from an experiment with nearly 1000 people on how emotions causing love and emotions causing depression affect the body.
Happy Life Through Friendship
I have saved the best for last! It sums up everything already said. As it turned out the only thing leading to a long healthy and happy life is relationships. I decided to paraphrase it as FRIENDSHIP because if you are in a bad relationship with your parents, for instance, there is no way that you can be affected positively and be happy about it.
So, there is this major notorious study by Harvard University that has taken over 80 years to be conducted and is still going on, which showed that friendships are the most important thing in people’s life. Researchers said that by the quality and the quantity of the relationships of the studied objects they could predict approximately how long those people would live and why they do or don’t have health problems.
This includes being a friend to not only your friends but also your partner, family, children, co-workers, pets etc. Keeping good relationships with people is key for longevity and happiness. But the most important friendship is the one you have with yourself.
So, don’t isolate yourself from people because studies show that loneliness kills… literary. From more than 100 studies conducted in the last 100 years, researchers have concluded that social isolations and loneliness are deadly, even more than obesity. Loneliness and social isolation have been proven to be the main causes of many diseases, such as Alzheimer, breast cancer and others.
Bonus Tip – Happy Life Through GRATITUDE
This article just wouldn’t be complete without paying the well-deserved attention to the happiness and health benefits from being grateful.
Many studies have shown that gratitude have positive effect on the mind and the body. It can not only make you a happier peson but also a healthier one. Researchers from Berkeley have found that being thankful acts like an anti depressant over time.
Another study shows that it can help people to relieve their physical pain.
So don’t just thank God or the Universe for being alive, thank the person next to you for keeping you company!