Feel Good, Strive to Make This World a Happier Place

Feel Good, Strive to Make This World a Happier Place

Feel Good, Strive to Make This World a Happier Place

True happiness opens our minds, broadens our awareness of the world and allowing us to become more in tune with the needs of others.

Strong relationships and good health are Key factors in the realm of happiness, but low income can be a hindrance to both.

People living in poverty, defined as an annual income of $11,770 for a single person and $24,250 for a family of 4 in the US bear the brunt of the burden, often struggling with both psychological and physical health.

A US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report found that nearly 9% of people living below the federal poverty line experienced serious psychological distress compared to only 1.2% of those living at or above 400% of the poverty line.

In turn, those facing serious psychological distress were more likely to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease and diabetes than those not in distress, as income increased, the percentage of people with serious psychological distress decreased.

Research also shows that poverty exacerbates the emotional pain of adverse events like divorce, ill health and being alone, while making it harder to enjoy positive events, like weekends.

That said, the trend of increasing income being associated with better mental health and happiness appears to be only true to a point.

In terms of emotional well-being, “there is no further progress beyond an annual income of $75,000,” researchers wrote, concluding that “high income buys life satisfaction but not happiness.”

There is also evidence suggesting that the “mid-life crisis,” a period of unhappiness that hits many people in their 40’s, may be real. Research from 500-K people revealed a distinct U-shaped curve to their happiness levels.

In childhood, happiness levels tended to be high, then moved downward after the age of 18 and bottoming out during the 40’s. Between the teenage and middle-age years, one study suggested life satisfaction scores may dip by up to 10%

By age 50 and beyond, happiness starts to come back up again until, for most, the last few years of life or a serious health problem occurs.

Research has suggested older adults tend to have a greater sense of happiness than younger adults because they regulate emotions better, are exposed to less stress and have fewer negative emotions.

In addition, 1 study published in the Journal of Consumer Research suggested that while younger people tend to value extraordinary experiences, as people get older they tend to place more value on ordinary moments, such as drinking a good cup of coffee or “having a long and fun conversation with my son.”

Another theory posits that the U-shaped happiness curve is “caused by unmet expectations that are felt painfully in midlife but beneficially abandoned and experienced with less regret during old age.”

Having a strong social network of good friends is a Key indicator of happiness for good reason.

The research shows friendship can be a significant factor in successful recuperation from depression, as good mood and a positive outlook can actually spread like a contagion through social groups.

This is one reason why strong social ties are indicative of one’s happiness; mental illness, especially depression and chronic anxiety, is “the biggest single cause of misery in advanced countries,” according to LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance (CEP).

One of CEP’s priorities is to overhaul public policy to increasingly aim at increasing wellbeing and personal happiness, especially since only 33% of people struggling with mental illness receive treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy.

Take Action for Happiness

Mr. Layard is the founder of Action for Happiness, a movement of people committed to building a happier and more caring society.

In the video above, he explains why we should stop short of tying our inner purpose to becoming richer and richer and instead focus on achieving happiness and well-being.

Action for Happiness, whose members pledge to try to create more happiness in the world around them, has compiled 10 Keys to happier living which, based on the latest research, tend to make life happier and more fulfilling.

They spell out “GREAT DREAM”:

  • Giving: Do things for others
  • Relating: Connect with people
  • Exercising: Take care of your body
  • Awareness: Live life mindfully
  • Trying Out: Keep learning new things
  • Direction: Have goals to look forward to
  • Resilience: Find ways to bounce back
  • Emotions: Look for what’s good
  • Acceptance: Be comfortable with who you are
  • Meaning: Be part of something bigger

A prime bonuses of happiness is that it creates a positive feedback loop, leading to physical and mental benefits, and that make positive emotions easier to achieve.

True happiness opens our minds, broadens our awareness of the world and allowing us to become more in tune with the needs of others.

Experiencing positive emotions also increases intuition and creativity while broadening mindset. A broadened mindset helps us to build important personal resources like social connections, coping strategies and environmental knowledge that helps us thrive and find increased well-being, a Win-Win situation for all involved.

In the quest for happiness, many people put their hopes on the attainment of material possessions when what may matter most of all, according to the research, are things that money cannot buy: good health and strong relationships.

“Feel good, and strive to make things better in the world we live in. Happy New Year”


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