Before we tell you why do you actually need happiness in life, please explore this niggling question about happiness: Is it really easier to cry in a Bayerische Motoren Werke car? After all, the company says “Joy is BMW.”
Didn’t you come across the wildly popular The Hangover Parody Account tweet about happiness: Money can’t buy happiness, but it’s much more comfortable crying in a Mercedes-Benz than on a bike? I’m sure you did; that, or a version of that.
It all began when in 2010, a 22-year old Ma Nuo in a Chinese dating television show called If you are the One was asked by a suitor if she would go on a date to “ride a bicycle with him”. She replied, “I would rather cry in a BMW than smile on a bicycle.” And became an online sensation.
That told the world in a short, memorable sentence what perhaps could become its best definition of materialism. By the way, materialism is a doctrine that holds material success and progress as the highest values in life. It means physical things are more important than spiritual or intellectual things.
To many of us, happiness equals more stuff and more possessions. And to many others it equals more money, less stress, more success, less sadness, more power, less insecurity.
So, the question is: Is it really easier to cry in a Mercedes or BMW?
When you try to think up what’s wrong with that, it might lead you to another question: Why do you need to cry when you’re sitting in a BMW?
And you find that it’s so because the pains and trials that wring out your tears don’t care where you’re placed in life.
Rich people cry. Strong people cry. Famous people cry. May be the tears don’t show always, but they also cry – even if it’s only on the inside. You can have all the luxury that anybody could afford, and still you will have moments of pain and tears. That is authentic life.
Now, it might well be that she has a river of tears dammed inside her, but she doesn’t want the world to see her cry. So, she wants the fortress of a shiny car that can tell the world she’s doing great. While she cries inside safely hidden.
Why Do You Need Happiness in Life?
You could be thinking at this point: I’ve all that I need in life – money, property, relationships, comforts and even things of luxury. What’s wrong with just that? What extra do I get being happy? Why does happiness matter?
This is why do you need happiness in life. This is where the research comes. Scientists have established by numerous studies that happiness doesn’t just feel good, happy people are more successful across many areas of life – marriage, friendship, income, work, charity, and health.
1. Do Happy People Earn More?
Yes. People who are happier with their lives have been found to have higher incomes and more material wealth. According to the United Nations World Happiness Survey, published in 2015, throughout the world, income is the #1 predictor for happiness, and the more you make, the happier you become.
According to Cornell University economics professor Robert Frank, increased yearly income is the most significant way to increase happiness.
2. Do Happy People Get More Success?
Yes. Success doesn’t make us happy; rather, being happy makes us successful, as many studies have proved.
Happy people are more likely to ace job interviews, and secure better jobs. They are evaluated more positively by superiors on a job, show higher performance and productivity, and handle managerial position jobs better.
Happiness also makes you more productive, and improves your ability to problem-solve. In fact, people who were primed to feel happy in an experiment by economists at Warwick University were found to be 11% more productive. In a job, a happy person is more likely to succeed better. They are also less likely to show disruptive behavior and work burnout.
In a 2007 study that followed more than 6,000 men and women aged 25 to 74 for 20 years, Dr. Laura Kubzansky, Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Director of the Society and Health Psychophysiology Laboratory at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, found that emotional vitality — a sense of enthusiasm, hopefulness, and engagement in life — appears to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. She has found that optimism cuts the risk of coronary heart disease by half.
3. Do Happy People Help Others More?
Yes. Happy people are more ‘prosocial’, that is they seem more inclined to help others. Happy people volunteer at higher levels than their unhappy friends and colleagues for charity and community service groups, as religious, political, health-related, and educational organizations.
4. Do Happy People Have Better Relationships?
Yes. Relationships have been proven by many researchers to be the single most important factor responsible for the survival of human species. Happy people have more friends and better social support, and also, they are more satisfied with their friends and their group activities. The top 10% happiest college students, in a study, have been found to have high-quality relationships. They have been found to be less jealous and to have stronger contacts with their family members.
“My empirical study of well-being among 1,600 Harvard undergraduates found a similar result—social support was a far greater predictor of happiness than any other factor, more than GPA, family income, SAT scores, age, gender, or race. In fact, the correlation between social support and happiness was 0.7. This may not sound like a big number, but for researchers it’s huge—most psychology findings are considered significant when they hit 0.3. The point is, the more social support you have, the happier you are.” — Shawn Achor
5. Do Happy People Have Better Marriages?
Yes. Happy people have more fulfilling marriages. They tend to be more satisfied within their marriages. Researchers have found that there is indeed a very strong relationship between happiness and satisfaction with marriage and family. Happy people who are either married or in committed relationships more often describe their partner as being their “great love” than their less happy friends.
6. Do Happy People Have Better Health?
Yes. Happy people have better physical health and report fewer unpleasant physical symptoms. They have fewer emergency room and hospital visits, make fewer calls to the doctor, use less medication, and have fewer work absences. They also experience less pain.
Yes. Happy people are more mentally healthy than their less happy social group members. Happy people have fewer symptoms of mental diseases, such as hypochondriasis, schizophrenia, social phobia, anxiety, or depression. Happy people are also less likely to report a history of drug abuse.
“Healthy people are not happier. The reverse is true: happy people are healthier.” – Heli Koivumaa-Honkanen
“It is often said that people spend the best years of their life trying to make money and sacrificing their health and their family, only to spend the rest of their days paying that same money in an attempt to recover their lost health and their estranged family.” – Jose de Jesus Garcia Vega
7. Are Happy People Are More Resilient?
Yes. Happiness is about being able to make the most of the good times – but also to cope effectively with the inevitable bad times, in order to experience the best possible life overall.
Happiness is the most important thing we want for the people we love. We always want our loved ones to be happy, even at the cost of our own happiness. That’s why it matters so much.
So, you do need happiness in your life for more than just feeling good.
In 10 Keys to Happier Living, Vanessa King of Action for Happiness has drawn on the latest scientific studies to create a set of evidence-based practical actions for happiness. You’ll get ideas, insights and practical actions to create more happiness for yourself and those around you.
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