To have fulfilling lives, we need happiness, more than money and success. Science shows why.
But before finding out the scientific facts about the importance of happiness in life, tell us have you ever come across this saying about money and happiness:
Money can’t buy happiness, but it’s better to cry in a BMW than laugh on a bicycle.
7 Reasons We Need Happiness In Life
Before we dive into the story of Ma Nuo and find out if crying in a luxury car is better, here are seven reasons we need happiness in life:
- Happier People Earn More
- Happier People Get More Success
- Happier People Help Others More
- Happier People Are More Resilient
- Happier People Have Better Health
- Happier People Have Better Marriages
- Happier People Have Better Relationships
Is It Really Better To Cry In A BMW
Now, let us look deeper into a niggling question at the root of that BMW aphorism:
Is it really painless and joyful to cry in a BMW? After all, the company says, “Joy is BMW.”
It all began in March 2010. On the popular Chinese matchmaking show Feicheng Wurao (If You Are The One), an 18-year-old Ma Nuo was asked by a jobless suitor if she would go on a date to “ride a bicycle with him.” She replied swift and sharp:
I would rather cry in a BMW than laugh on a bicycle.
And became an overnight online sensation. The episode started a debate on whether a woman can openly suggest the worthiness of a man is purely a measure of his financial status.
Many believe Ma Nuo gave the world got its best definition of materialism in a repeatable and memorable sentence.
Materialism, by the way, is an ideology that holds material success and progress are 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.
By the way, BMW is a shortened term for Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, the German company producing luxury vehicles.
So, the question is: Is it really painless and joyful to cry in a BMW, or, for that matter, a Mercedes or an Audi?
When you try to think up what is wrong with that, it might lead you to the primary question behind that: Why do you need to cry when you are inside a BMW?
And you find it is so because the pains and trials that bring out your tears do not care where your place is in life. You can have all the luxury that anybody could afford and still have moments of pain and tears.
The rich cry. The strong cry. The famous cry. Their tears may not always show, but they also cry — even if only on the inside. That is an authentic life.
Coming back to the question, now it might well be that she has a river of tears dammed inside her, but she does not want the world to see her cry. So, she wants the fortress of a shiny car that can tell the world she is doing great. While she weeps inside, safely hidden.The trials of life that bring out your tears do not care where you are placed in life, in a palace or in a shanty. Click To Tweet
Why Is Happiness Important
You could think at this point: “I have all I need in life — money, property, relationships, comforts, and even things of luxury. What is wrong with having just that?”
- “Why does happiness matter?”
- “What extra do I get being happier?”
- “Why is it important to be happy in my life?”
We discuss below why do you need to be happy in life. And our words to prove the importance of happiness in life come from research. Scientists have found happiness feels not only good, but happier people are more successful across many areas of life — marriage, friendship, income, work, charity, and health.
1. Do Happy People Earn More?
Do happy people earn more? Yes. Researchers have found people who are happier with their lives also have higher incomes and more material wealth. They also found people having more money have higher overall life satisfaction.
According to the United Nations World Happiness Survey, 2015, a person’s income is the #1 predictor for happiness.
According to Cornell University economics professor Robert Frank, increased yearly income is the most significant way to increase happiness.
However, this association is not a straight line. Up to a point, more money may bring more life satisfaction. People with little money felt happier with increased income. An increased income improved their life satisfaction even after it took care of their basic needs.
But, as income increases, its impact on happiness flattens out and goes down. So wealthy people are not always happy.
A study from Purdue University in 2018 found while an annual income of $60,000 to $75,000 is the right for day-to-day emotional well-being, but for authentic life satisfaction, the ideal income is $95,000.
If you want to boost your happiness, here are the money secrets from science.
2. Do Happy People Get More Success?
Do happy people get more success? Yes. Success does not make us happy; rather, being happy makes us successful, as many studies have proved.
Happier 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, economists at Warwick University found people primed to feel happy in an experiment turned out to be 11% more productive. In a job, a person who is happy is more likely to succeed better. They are also less likely to show disruptive behavior and work burnout.
In a 2007 study that followed over 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 Harvard, found emotional vitality — a sense of enthusiasm, hopefulness, and engagement in life — appears to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. She concluded optimism cuts the risk of coronary heart disease by half.
3. Do Happy People Help Others More?
Do happy people help others more? Yes. Happy people seem more inclined to help others, or as scientists would call them, are more prosocial.
Happy people volunteer more often than their unhappy friends and colleagues for charity and community service groups, as religious, political, health-related, and educational organizations.
Our overall well-being has a direct correlation with helping others with our time, money, or other resources to a cause we feel passionate about. Studies suggest people who volunteer to help have better health and more happiness than those who do not.
According to a study in Social Science & Medicine, a person who volunteers more than once a month, but less than once a week, is 12% more likely to report being very happy. And a person who volunteers weekly is 16% more likely to report they are very happy.
4. Do Happy People Have Better Relationships?
Do happy people have better relationships? Yes. Many researchers have proven relationships are the single most important factor responsible for the survival of the human species. Happier 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, were found to have high-quality relationships. They tended to be less jealous and have stronger contact 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, positive psychology advocate who has lectured at over a third of the Fortune 100 companies
5. Do Happy People Have Better Marriages?
Do happy people have better marriages? Yes. Happy people have more fulfilling marriages. They tend to find more satisfaction within their marriages.
Researchers have found that there is indeed a strong relationship between happiness and satisfaction with marriage and family. Happier people who are either married or in committed relationships, more often describe their partner as their “great love” than their less happy friends.
Waite and Gallagher in their book The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier and Better Off Financially suggest happiness or life satisfaction of married individuals is higher because spouses provide emotional support and a sense of a greater purpose or meaning to life. The marriage partnership allows for economic and emotional specialization. It also provides access to an available sexual partner.
6. Do Happy People Have Better Health?
Do happy people have better health? Yes. Happy people have better physical health and report fewer unpleasant physical symptoms.
The happier people visit the emergency room and hospitals less frequently, make fewer calls to the doctor, use less medication, and have a lesser number of work absences. They also experience less pain.
Happier people are mentally healthier than their less happy social group members. They have fewer symptoms of mental diseases, such as hypochondriasis, schizophrenia, social phobia, anxiety, or depression. Happier 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, Life Satisfaction and Suicide: A 20-Year Follow-Up Study
Happiness comes first. If you are happy, you are more likely to start and stick to a healthy exercise habit. And in return, exercise makes us happier.
7. Are Happy People More Resilient?
Are happy people more resilient? Yes. The people who are happier are more gritty and resilient.
Resilience is our “bouncing back” capacity. It defines how fast and how well we can recover from our difficulties. Happiness is about being able to make the most of the good times—but also to cope effectively with the inevitable bad times, to experience the best-possible-life overall.
To be happier, learn how to pick yourself up after a fall, come back strong after a failure, let go of negative feelings people heap on you, and find the resilience to come back stronger.
What Matters For Happiness
The following extract from the peer-reviewed research article The Keys To Happiness is significantly relevant:
“Studies have shown that prioritizing time more highly than money is positively associated with happiness. Individuals may choose to allocate more of their time to making money, but often do so at the expense of neglecting social relationships (spending time with family, friends, and the community).
“It has been discussed that prioritizing time over money is beneficial for happiness because it can improve the quality of social relationships.
“Prioritizing social relationships, including family, friends, and neighbors, was associated with a greater likelihood of happiness, whereas prioritizing extrinsic achievements, such as money and power, or physical self (i.e., health) was adversely associated with happiness.
“Respondents prioritizing religion (spirituality) were most likely to report happiness, whereas respondents prioritizing extrinsic achievements were the least likely.
“It is likely that people who consider extrinsic achievements as the most important thing in life are less likely to be satisfied with their current achievements and less likely to invest in social relationships, such as family and friends.”
So, do we need to have happiness in our lives? Short answer: Yes. Science shows, being happy is the high-priority business of life. You need happiness in your life for more than just feeling good.
Another thing: happiness is the most important thing we want for the people we love. We always want our loved ones to be happy, sometimes even at the cost of taking pain ourselves. But you cannot show them your happiest side unless you are happy yourself.
Finally, you can try to be happy without any need to be perfect at it.
In 10 Keys to Happier Living, Vanessa King of Action for Happiness draws on scientific studies to create a set of 10 practical actions we could take for creating more happiness for ourselves and those around us. Some of these are — living mindfully, finding ways to bounce back from tough times, learning new things, being comfortable with who we are, and being part of something bigger than ourselves.
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Author Bio: Sandip Roy is a psychology writer, happiness researcher, and medical doctor. Founder of Happiness India Project, and chief editor of its blog. He writes popular-science articles on positive psychology and related topics.
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