Why happiness matters
By Henry S. Miller
Although some would have you think otherwise, the uniquely human pursuit of happiness is not merely some frivolous idle-time activity for the fortunate few. Far from it. Instead, it is a serious pursuit ~ a duty and responsibility for each of us.
Most of the benefits of living a happier life are familiar, yet they are powerful and seemingly endless, and they far outweigh the costs and work needed to achieve this state. Researchers have found numerous benefits in happiness, including:
Success. Overall, happy people are more successful across multiple major domains of life, including work, social relationships, income and health. In addition, the relationship between happiness and success seems to be reciprocal: Not only can individual success lead to feelings of happiness, but happiness also results in more success. In this way, happiness becomes an even more worthwhile pursuit, both as a desirable end, in and of itself, and as a means to achieve other significant life goals.
Physical health. Happy people experience less pain, are often in better health, are more active with more energy and even, not surprisingly, live longer. They have lower stress levels and stronger immune systems that fight disease more effectively. By comparison, stressed and depressed people are more vulnerable to various illnesses.
Mental health. Happy individuals construe daily situations and major life events in relatively more positive and more adaptive ways that seem to reinforce their happiness. They are also less likely to exaggerate any criticism, however slight, that they may receive, as opposed to unhappy individuals, who react to life experiences in negative ways that only reinforce their unhappiness.
Personally. Happy people more frequently exhibit characteristics like being strikingly energetic, decisive and flexible. They are more creative, more helpful to those in need, more self-confident, more forgiving, more charitable, more sociable and more loving. Compared to unhappy people, happier people are more trusting, more loving and more responsive. They have greater self-control, can tolerate frustration better, are less likely to be abusive, are more lenient and demonstrate enhanced coping skills.
Socially. Happy people have more friends, richer social interactions, correspondingly stronger social support and experience longer and more satisfying marriages.
Work. In addition to bringing all their positive personal attributes to work, happy people have been proven to be more likely to perform better, achieve greater productivity and deliver a higher quality work product. They tend to receive a higher income as a result.
Remember: The stakes are high. The price of unhappiness is steep. And life is short.
Henry S. Miller is the author of The Serious Pursuit of Happiness: Everything You Need to Know to Flourish and Thrive and Inspiration for the Pursuit of Happiness: Wisdom to Guide your Journey to a Better Life. He is also the creator of the online membership program Get SERIOUS About Your Happiness: 20 Transformational Tools for Turbulent Times. As President of The Henry Miller Group (millergroup.com), he is a speaker, trainer and consultant, helping organizations improve engagement, performance and productivity by increasing employee well-being.