14 Facts You Must Know about Happiness
Happiness is a subject which invokes a lot of interests and a wide range of opinions. It seems that every living person on this planet has some form of opinion of what happiness is or ought to be.
That happiness is desirable is definitely one thing that is universally agreed upon. The diversity of opinions blossoms on how one should reach happiness.
Religion, Science, Philosophy and spiritual disciplines speak of happiness in different lines that diverge in all sorts of directions.
Religion and world philosophies have tried to seek the truth of happiness in the inner and spiritual sphere of human life while recently Science has been trying to study and analyze some common factors that are conducive to, or symptomatic of, happiness.
I thought it would be interesting to gather some well known facts about happiness from different fields and put them together in one list.
Here are a few I picked:
1. Happiness is not dependent or proportional to income. It’s a recorded fact that 37% of people on Forbes’ list are less happy than the average American. From past studies, it has resulted that happiness only varies with income till a certain threshold is reached (approximately average income and quality of life). Beyond that it doesn’t really make a difference.
2. Social conditions such as civic rights and individual freedom are a prerequisite of happiness but not completely necessary. The more a country has civic liberty and just laws, the more its inhabitants tend to be happy. But a lot of exceptions can be found, at least on an individual level if not on a collective one. There are volumes of stories of people who have found happiness and meaning in life in the midst of terrible hardships and injustice.
3. Dan Gilbert, who has researched happiness extensively, tells how lack of choice sometimes begets happiness. In one experiment, people were asked to choose a painting from a set which they could take home for free. Half of them were given the choice to return it and exchange it for another after a given time if they were not happy with it. The others were not given this choice at all. It turned out that those which were not given any choice were most happy with their original choice unlike those which hadn’t.
4. Happiness is more a question of inner predisposition than external factors. In fact several studies have shown that external factors are only 10% responsible for happiness. Inner predisposition such as attitude, relationships and outlook on life make up 50% of this contribution.
5. Social support and meaningful relationships are key ingredients to happiness. People who have strong relationships and meaningful social ties tend to be much happier than those that are secluded, lonely or disconnected.
6. The happiest people are those who are living and working what they are passionate about irrelevant of financial return or compensation.
7. Another key factor to happiness is living your authentic aspirations, free from social pressures and the influence of peer consensus and approval.
8. Physical activity promotes happiness. Certain studies showed that after exercising for 20 minutes, 3 times a week, happiness levels increased by 10-20% in all subjects just after 6 months.
9. Happy people are healthier in general. It is also shown that happy people produce as much as 50% more antibodies than people who are unhappy or depressed.
10. Pets can reduce blood pressure and stress which in turns promotes happiness.
11. People who tend not to take things personally or hold grudges are far happier than those that do.
12. Happiness lies also in appreciation and contentment. It is a well known cliché to find people who have a lot but are eternally dissatisfied with everything and those who possess very little but are happy and grateful for what they have.
13. The world population is on average less than 65% happy.
14. Another known constant in the happiness formula is optimism. Having an optimistic outlook on life can make a whole lot of a difference to how you respond to situations and how happy you can be as a result of that.
Gilbert Ross also writes about inner development, mindfulness and conscious living on his blog Soul Hiker. You can subscribe to his feeds here or follow him on Twitter here.