What determines your happiness? Is it your bank account? Your health report? Your pants size? Your kid’s success? Many of us decide what we need to be happy and determine we will be happy when we attain certain goals. Guillaume Apollinaire famously said, “Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” Today, let’s pause in our pursuit and check out these 8 mind-blowing facts that just might change how you think of happiness.
1. Does the idea of lying on the beach in the summertime make you happy? We tend to associate happiness with the hot temperatures of summer, probably because that’s when we were off from school as children and when many take a vacation, but science tells us that it’s not the hot weather that makes us happy. In fact, 57 degrees Fahrenheit appears to be the ideal temperature for happiness. Cool!
2. Trying to be happy actually makes you less happy. In a bizarre turn of events, it seems that the harder you try to attain personal happiness, the less happy you will actually be. In fact, this study says that “valuing happiness could be self-defeating because the more people value happiness, the more likely they will feel disappointed.” So, it looks like Guillaume Apollinaire was onto something.
What’s the fix? It appears that turning the focus from yourself to the happiness of others will actually make you happier. Modern psychological research shows that people who volunteer on a regular basis or reach out to others in some way have better psychological well-being and higher life satisfaction. Isn’t that a beautiful irony?
3. If you think your best days are behind you and that happiness is best suited for the young, think again! A new study finds that life gets happier after 50 and that people in their mid to late 50’s are generally happier and experience less stress and worry than people in their 20’s. The reason for this uptick in happiness is unclear, but hey, it gives us something to look forward to!
4. Just like a cold, happiness is contagious. You can spread it to (or catch it from) the people around you. In a study done in 2008, it was found that your happiness is quite dependent upon how happy your social network is. In fact, if a social contact is happy, your own happiness increases by 15%. Even the happiness of a friend of a friend raises your own happiness level. Unhappiness is also contagious, though slightly less so. We are all interconnected. Choose happy friends and be a happy friend.
5. Money does buy happiness. Sort of. A 2013 study from the University of Michigan found that “there is no limit to the amount of happiness that comes from a higher income.” They also said, “If there is a satiation point, we are yet to reach it.” This is contrary to previous studies which indicated that once you reached middle class, a higher income didn’t really make you any happier. The question is, do happier people make more money or does making more money make people happier? Someone with a positive, pleasant mood and attitude is more likely to be successful and climb the ranks than the Negative Nelly. Either way, I imagine it’s harder to be sad on a personal yacht.
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