Happiness matters, more than you might realize. It’s important to your physical and mental health, your resiliency in the face of obstacles and crises, and believe it or not, your happiness is important to happiness of the world at large.
Your Happiness Matters to the Whole World
Yes, you heard me – your personal happiness is important to happy quotient of the entire world. But somewhere along the way, we’ve picked up this horribly damaging belief that wanting to be happy is selfish and arrogant. We’ve made ourselves believe that what we want most is not important, and that we don’t deserve it. We’ve somehow managed to twist ourselves so out of alignment with Who We Really are that we’ve come to believe that suffering is expected, and even virtuous! We’ve come to believe that in pursuing our own happiness, we will somehow destroy or negate the happiness of others. And so we give up on believing that our own happiness matters and we resign ourselves to a lifetime of misery because we don’t want to hurt anyone and we don’t want anyone to think badly of us.
But here’s the thing: being happy yourself is one of the best things you can do to help other people be happy, too! We’ve all had the experience of knowing someone who seems to light up a whole room when they enter it; the kind of person who makes other people feel happy, just be being around them. Happiness has a ripple effect far beyond a single individual; when you are happy, other people (your partner, your kids, your friends, etc.) notice and are themselves influenced by your mood. This is not just anecdotal; it’s scientific fact: when you are happy, you boost the moods of everyone you encounter and (here’s where it gets really cool) those people whose moods you have affected will affect the moods of everyone they encounter, too!
The Happiness Cascade Effect
This happiness “cascade effect” was documented in a study published in 2008 in the British Medical Journal.Researchers from Harvard and the University of California, San Diego discovered that “clusters of happiness result from the spread of happiness [my italics] and not just a tendency for people to associate with similar individuals” and that the happiness of single individuals affects even those they don’t know… through three degrees of separation! That means that if you are happy, not only does it make your friends happier, it also makes their friends happier and their friends’ friends happier, too!
[I]f one person is happy, that increases the chances of happiness in a friend living within a mile by 25 percent. The “cascade” effect, as the researchers put it, continues: a friend of the friend has almost a 10 percent higher likelihood of being happy, and a friend of that friend has a 5.6 percent increased chance.
See? Happiness is contagious! So, far from being a selfish thing, the pursuit of your own happiness can be seen as a generous public service – and perhaps even a civic duty of sorts, to increase the happiness of society as a whole! Think how wonderful the world would be if we all did what made us happy. Wouldn’t it be amazing to live in a world where we let go of the “shoulds” and followed our hearts to what was truly important to us? Your happiness matters — to all of us. So figure out what makes your heart sing… and then go do it.
photo credit: (c) Can Stock Photo
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I just read the book The Giving Tree. It is so LOA! The tree is the universe, which gives you everything you want, and wants you to be happy. It is happy when you are near it. At least that’s what I understood. Great book!
Oh, I don’t like that book at all. It makes me sad that the poor tree just gives and gives and gives and destroys herself in the process. And the boy never once says thank you. I guess it’s how you interpret the story. Some people see it as a nice story about selfless giving and friendship… but I don’t agree with the principle of self-sacrifice. I think giving should be beneficial for all parties, and I don’t think it’s real friendship if one party is constantly getting hurt by the arrangement — that’s just parasitic, in my mind. If the boy really loved the tree, and valued her as a friend, he wouldn’t have destroyed her.
Yes, the Universe loves us unconditionally. Yes, the Universe gives us everything we are in alignment with, without hesitation. But the Universe is never damaged or diminished through its giving. It doesn’t hurt itself in order to give to us.
Just my interpretation, of course — there are a lot of people who really do like the book and see a different message in it.
Yeah, I see the tree as the universe, because how else would one depict that in a story? Like Jesus did with the parables, just as an example. He used people and things as well.
Wow, I never even considered the interpretation you state. I never thought of it that way. I just saw it as the universe’s relationship with us. In ever thought if it a malicious in any way, shape or form and I felt great and re-assured after reading that story, seeing it as totally LOA, ha. Yes, it depends on interpretation.