Is Happiness An Important Thing In Life?
Short answer: Yes. Happiness is indeed an important thing in life. We need happiness more than money and success. Science has shown us why.
But before finding out the scientific facts about importance of happiness in life, let’s ask if you ever came across the following popular saying about money and happiness?
Money can’t buy happiness, but it’s much more comfortable crying in a BMW than on a bike.
We’re sure you read or heard that, or a version of that. Now, please explore this niggling question below:
Is it really easier to cry in a car by BMW? After all, the company says “Joy is BMW.”
Is Money More Important Than Happiness?
It all began in 2010, when a 22-year old Ma Nuo was asked by a suitor if she would go on a date to “ride a bicycle with him” on a Chinese television show If you are the One. She replied:
I would rather cry in a BMW than smile on a bicycle.
And became an overnight online sensation.
That’s how the world got its best definition of materialism in a short, viral, memorable sentence.
Materialism is a doctrine 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 shortened form of Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, the German company producing luxury vehicles.
So, the question is: Is it really easier to cry in a BMW, or for that matter, a Mercedes?
When you try to think up what’s wrong with that, it might lead you to a primary question behind that: Why do you need to cry when you’re in a BMW?
And you find it’s so because the pains and trials that bring out your tears don’t care where you’re placed in life. You can have all the luxury that anybody could afford, and still have moments of pain and tears.
Rich people cry. Strong people cry. Famous people cry. May be the tears don’t always show, but they also cry — even if it’s only on the inside. 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 We Need Happiness? Why Is Happiness Important?
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?
- Why does happiness matter?
- What extra do I get being happier?
- Why is it important to be happy in my life?
This is why do you need happiness in life. This is where the research comes and proves the importance of happiness in one’s life. 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.
Seven reasons why happiness is important:
- Happy People Earn More
- Happy People Get More Success
- Happy People Help Others More
- Happy People Have Better Relationships
- Happy People Have Better Marriages
- Happy People Have Better Health
- Happy People Are More Resilient
1. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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 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. 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. Happy People Are More Resilient
Yes. Resilience is our “bouncing back” capacity, that is, how fast and 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, in order to experience the best possible life overall.
To be happy, you have to learn how to pick yourself up after a fall, how to come back strong after a failure, how to let go negative feelings people heap on you, and find the resilience to all that.
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. You do need happiness in your life for more than just feeling good. That’s why it matters so much.
The following extract from the peer-reviewed research article The Keys To Happiness are significantly relevant to close this with:
For example, are people who prioritize family happier than those who prioritize money? Is valuing religion more strongly associated with happiness than family? These questions motivated the current study to directly investigate how prioritizing specific life domains relates to happiness.
Recent 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). The millionaire rapper and songwriter Sean “Diddy” Combs recently said in an interview that “I can always make more money, but I can’t make time”, which expresses the ideas that (a) investing in relationships does not cost money, but (b) making more money is often traded off against other uses of time. It has been discussed that prioritizing time over money is beneficial for happiness because it can improve the quality of social relationships.
Our findings showed that there were significant associations between personal values regarding life domains and happiness. 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. Although prioritizing spirituality (i.e., religion) was not significant when excluding the 2009 data, it was significantly and positively associated with happiness in the models when the age restriction was employed, or with self-rated health, as well as for the total sample. Respondents prioritizing religion 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.
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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Author Bio: Sandip Roy is 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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