Happiness Comes from Making Others Feel Good

Happiness Comes from Making Others Feel Good

via Psychology Today by Mark Travers

Martin Luther King Jr. said the “surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.”

New research published by a team of psychologists at the University of Missouri-Columbia suggests that King’s words are as true today as they were a half-century ago — that our own happiness is, in part, influenced by the kindness and generosity we show others.

“Americans are guaranteed the right to ‘pursue happiness’ for themselves,” say the researchers, led by Liudmila Titova and Kennon Sheldon. “But might they be better off if they pursued happiness for others? We compared the two strategies, showing that, ironically, the second pursuit brings more personal happiness than the first.”

Helping Others Boosts Happiness

To arrive at this conclusion, the authors asked a group of research participants to engage in a series of behaviors and thought experiments that pitted acts of self-directed happiness against those aimed at improving the happiness of others. In one study, participants were approached on the street after parking their cars. They were given a few quarters by a research assistant and were asked to either feed their own parking meters or the meters of an adjacent car. The researchers then asked participants how happy they felt. Interestingly, people who fed others’ meters showed a greater boost in happiness than those who fed their own meters, despite not knowing who they were helping.

In another experiment, the researchers asked participants to either recall a time they tried to make someone else happy or themselves. Participants were asked to write a few sentences describing the event and rate how happy it made them feel. Again, participants who were prompted to recall a time they tried to improve the happiness of someone else reported higher levels of remembered happiness than those who wrote about a time when they tried to improve their own happiness.

“The results of these studies extend findings from previous research by showing that people derive boosted personal happiness from attempts to make other people happy — an approach that might seem counterintuitive for a lot of people at first,” state the researchers…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE