The Surprising Power of Community

During our September dive into relationships and happiness we’ve learned that strong relationships make us happier.

We also know that helping others makes us happy.

This makes sense to the extent that helping people we know strengthens our relationships with them.

One of the mysteries, though, is why helping strangers makes us happier. It doesn’t strengthen our relationships, because we may never see those people again or we may be doing our good deeds anonymously. In the case of some charities we may not even be able to identify the specific people that we are helping. And yet, we still are happier.

One possible solution is that helping others, even others that we don’t know, makes us feel like part of a larger community. Continue reading “The Surprising Power of Community”

Staying Happy in the Social Media Era

If we’re exploring the role of relationships in happiness, we need to look into social comparison.

It’s great that relationships make us happier, but what if our friends are more successful? Or less successful? What impact does it have when we see photos of other people’s cool vacation and new houses?

How does our mindset and happiness change based on comparison to the people around us? Or the people we see on social media?

And how can we be happy in an age when everyone shares everything online?

Let’s find out! Continue reading “Staying Happy in the Social Media Era”

Helping Yourself By Helping Others

We’re spending the month of September exploring relationships and happiness.

We started by learning about the importance of relationships generally to our happiness before diving into specific relationships with spouses and kids.

Now we’re going to zoom back out and look at broader concepts.

Today, we’ll be exploring the extraordinary happiness benefits of doing things for other people. Continue reading “Helping Yourself By Helping Others”

Will Kids Make You Happier?

I’m a new father this year and when I decided to explore the intersection between relationships and happiness I knew I wanted to see what the research found on how children affect our happiness.

I’ve read a lot of research on children this year, but pretty much all of it had to do with best practices in raising them. Now I wanted to see the impact that children have on adults.

Do kids make us happier?

I could wax poetic about my own experience, but if you’ve been here before you know I’d rather dive into the data. We’re all biased when it comes to our own experiences, but aggregated data is less biased.

So what does the data say? Do kids make us happier?

Well…It depends on how you define happy.

And where you live. Continue reading “Will Kids Make You Happier?”

Does Marriage Make You Happier?

We know how important relationships are to our happiness.

Given that our closest relationship is with our spouse, our spouse (or lack thereof) should be a really important factor in our happiness, right?

This seemed like the obvious place to start in understanding relationships and happiness, so I dove into the research on marriage. The data on whether marriage makes you happier is…a bit complicated. Continue reading “Does Marriage Make You Happier?”

Getting Happier with Other People

We’re spending each month of 2018 exploring a different topic to improve our lives. Consistent with that goal, we’ve spent a lot of time this year exploring happiness.

In April we looked into the science of happiness.

In May we learned about the intersection of money and happiness.

And in July we jumped into happiness and philosophy.

For September, we’re going to spend one last month learning about happiness. This time we’ll be exploring the factor that may be the single most important: relationships. Continue reading “Getting Happier with Other People”

Thinking About Death

When we learned about the science of happiness back in April, we ended the month discussing the meaning of life.

Now that we are discussing philosophy and happiness, we will get just as heavy. But at the other end of the spectrum.

We’re going to end our philosophy and happiness month by discussing the importance of death. Continue reading “Thinking About Death”

Lead With Love

Our look at happiness through philosophy has led us to spend a lot of time with the ancient Stoic philosophers and today will be no different.

However, today we’re visiting a topic that is widely covered in all sorts of philosophies and even (or especially) religions.

Today’s topic is the idea that we are all connected, so we must lead with love and be kind to others. Continue reading “Lead With Love”

There is Always a Choice

You always have a choice.

This is not an empty maxim. Not an inspirational quote.

It is a fact of life. And recognizing this fact will make you happier and allow you to live a better life.

While there are times when things happen to us that are outside of our control, it is always our choice how we respond to them. Continue reading “There is Always a Choice”