With the everyday stresses of modern living, we’re always looking for ways to make ourselves happier, healthier and less stressed out. How much control do we have over our happiness however? Is it something that is pre-determined like the colour of our eyes or do we have complete control over how happy we are?
According to studies from all over the globe that have been collated by the World Happiness Database in Rotterdam, we do have control over our happiness but it may not come from where we’re looking for it.
Professor Ruut Veenhoven studies social conditions for human happiness at Erasmus University in Rotterdam and revealed that studies show that in order to live a happy and rewarding life, you need to be active. He claims that involvement is more important to happiness than knowing the why of why we’re here.
Furthermore, he also said that the good news is that we can make ourselves happier and it has nothing to do with external factors such as having more money. Veenhoven commented:
“Research has shown that we can make ourselves happier because happiness does change over time. These changes are not just a matter of better circumstances but of better dealing with life. Elderly people tend to be wiser and for that reason, happier.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, studies have revealed that people tend to be happier if they:
* Are in a long-term relationship
* Are actively engaged in politics
* Are active in work and in their free time
* Go out for dinner
* Have close friendships (although happiness does not increase with the number of friends you have)
There were some very surprising findings however and these found that:
* People who drink in moderation are happier than those who don’t drink at all
* Men tend to be happier in a society where women enjoy greater equality
* Being considered good looking increases men’s happiness more than women’s
* You tend to be happier if you think you’re good looking rather than if you actually are
* Having children lowers happiness levels but they increase again once children have grown up and left home
Another surprising fact is that it’s actually good for us to feel a bit down in the dumps from time to time and that sadness can actually be useful. According to Veenhoven’s studies, being sad approximately 10% of the time can help to act as a red traffic light to curb negative behaviour.