How would you respond if you were asked if happiness matters? For such a remarkably touchy-feely, seemingly abstract concept, the question provokes a wide variety of responses. Some would respond that there is more in life to focus on than happiness; others would suggest that it is an extremely important goal for all humans to try to attain. And then there are those who believe that the people who want to be happy all the time are lazy and good-for-nothing.
What is Happiness?
It does help to try to nail what happiness means before we try to answer the question of whether happiness matters. Behavioural scientists have established that happiness does indeed relate to feelings, but it isn’t merely a fleeting ‘feeling’. We all experience a range of ‘feelings’ all day long - negative and positive. But true happiness, say, behavioural scientists, refers to our ability to make the most out of good times – and bad times, so that the balance of our lives is positive. So, perhaps happiness is not a touchy-feely concept after all; perhaps seeking to develop happiness is a practical and enlightened approach to coping with life.
The number of studies that look at the benefits of happiness are legion. Happiness, as defined above, leads to benefits for our performance, health, relationships and more. One fascinating study by Warwick University’s economics department asked different groups of participants to watch either a cheery film clip or a neutral one. They then invited the participants to carry out their normal tasks under paid conditions. The result? Those who watched the positive, cheery film were 11 % more productive than their peers, even after controlling for a number of important factors such as IQ. And no, this study isn’t a one-off. A review of over 160 studies found concrete evidence that those who are happy not only have better health, but live longer than their less happy counterparts.
But don’t take my word for it. Have a good look at this wonderful infographic by happiness company Happify and decide for yourself whether happiness matters.
See Also: Optimists live longer
And here’s a revolutionary thought: success isn’t the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. Do you agree? Share your thoughts in the box below…