The key to happiness is inside of you
Some days achieving happiness is as easy as waking up on time and getting out the door, other days are just plain hard. We have all those days and have occasionally relied on someone else to give us a boost and get us back on the path to feeling a bit happier.
Scientists have found that expressing your gratitude and reciprocating this kindness can have a profound impact on your own happiness levels.
Experiment 1: The Letter
In a recent study, scientists found that expressing your gratitude to someone can have a profound effect on your own happiness. Soul Pancake wanted to try this experiment out and film the results (summary below for those of you unwilling to watch a seven minute video or are working and can’t turn the sound up).
They asked volunteers to pen a letter to the most influential person in their life, without knowing the reason. Most wrote long, beautiful letters to someone special in their lives. Then, they were asked to call that person and read them their letter. Some were unable to call because their person had passed away or were otherwise unreachable, but all participants experienced an increase in happiness.
Those who were unable to make the call experienced a 2-4% increase in happiness. While those read their letters on the phone, experienced increases between 4-19%. Proving that expressing your gratitude will make you a happier person. The person who experienced the biggest jump in happiness was the person who arrived at the study least happy. So, if you’re having a tough time, try expressing your gratitude to someone who’s been there for you. Not only will it make them feel good, it will make you feel good as well.
Experiment 2: Kind Acts
Another study tried something similar with children aged nine to eleven. It examined the bidirectional link between happiness and prosocialty: not only do happy people have the personal resources to do good for others, but prompting people to engage in prosocial behavior also increases well-being.
The study explored whether doing good for others over a period of four weeks would simultaneously increase happiness and promote positive relationships with peers. Their good deeds were tracked (doing things like carrying groceries) and at the end of the study they found students who practiced kind acts, experienced improved well-being, as well as, increased popularity: presumably because they were exhibiting more positive behavior because they were happier.
The study states, “encouraging prosocial activities may have ripple effects beyond increasing the happiness and popularity of doers” (less bullying, better grades, etc.).
So the real key to happiness?
The bottom line: encouraging others is one of the best things you can do to bolster your own happiness levels and the person you encourage today, may be the person who encourages you tomorrow.