Does it pay off to be happy?
Drawing on the science of Happiness to learn how to become happier. In recent years, science has awakened for the importance of studying psychological wellbeing and happiness. What makes people happy? How can people learn to be happier? What are the benefits of happiness for the human mind and body?
All over the world unhappiness and depression rise to a record level. The World Health Organization points depression as the world’s second most debilitating disease, with only cardiovascular disease having a bigger impact. Recent data from the Office for National Statistics show that suicide rates in the United Kingdom are going up. The pattern in the data suggests a link between the economic downturn and the impact that the gloom of job losses and reduced incomes has on people’s moods. How can a person be happy even when facing economic uncertainties or other tribulations such as the loss of a loved one or long-term illness? Is it possible to learn consistent happiness or is this intrinsically related to our individual personality traits?
For many years, traditional psychology focused on studying mental illness and on how to improve people’s lives by helping them to be less unhappy. The 21st century has seen the rise of positive psychology, a movement that focuses on helping people to be happier by studying mental wellness and all the positive aspects of human life which contribute to optimal functioning and to wellbeing.
A great number of recent research studies focusing on happiness, optimism and self-efficacy beliefs suggest numerous benefits of living a more positive and happier life.
- Happy people are healthier
- Happy people live longer
- Happy people are more successful
- Happy people are more productive
- Happy people are more attractive
The results of these studies suggest that there is a true happiness that surpasses circumstances, the environment that we’re in and the obstacles that we’re confronted with and this genuine happiness can not only be pursued but can also be achieved.
True happiness is not a superficial mood dependent on external events or internal emotional or biological circumstances, it’s an inner state of joy and true contentment with who we are – not necessarily with what we have or what happens around us – and is directly associated with resilience and our ‘bounce back’ ability.
I will not suggest that happiness is the absence of problems nor the absence or grief. In fact, as much as the light illuminates darkness, it is the darkness that gives meaning to the light. Happiness is proven to be beneficial for the body but grief also develops the power of the mind and strengthens resilience. The emotional journey from darkness to the light, overcoming the obstacles in our way and the sense of victory when bouncing back from a fall all contribute to building personal power.
So, evidence shows that there are many rewards in being happy.
However, I have to question: what is more important in life, to be happy or to achieve results? To live a happy and satisfied life or to be successful? Are these 2 different things? What do you think?