Happiness can be hard to quantify. What does it mean to be happy? How do I become a happier person? These are questions that can be difficult to answer because different people find happiness in different things. Depending on our culture, or how we grew up, we have certain values that equate happiness to some arbitrary action or object.
However, in recent years, studies surrounding the attainment of happiness helped define overarching practices that can lead to a happier life for anyone. In fact, the course “Psychology and the Good Life” has become one the most popular courses at Yale University, showing the overwhelming interest in being happier people.
Recent studies have shown the happiness benefits of both prosocial spending and engaging with strangers. Researchers have previously observed that people with more money are, on average, happier than those with less money. But, how people spend their money is also a factor in happiness levels. With our innate need to share with people around us, spending money on other people gives us the satisfaction of social connection, financial competence, and personal autonomy. By sharing our money with others and investing in those around us, we invest in our own happiness.
We may not have been taught to mingle with strangers, but, contrary to popular belief, engaging with people we don’t know is another way to happiness. The risk of putting ourselves out there to people we don’t know has generally shown to have a very positive outcome. This small step of reaching out to someone is fuels our need for social connections. Engaging and making ourselves more a part of our global community brings us all closer together, making us the social beings we were born to be.
On this International Day of Happiness, support strong, powerful women as they rebuild their communities with Women for Women International, an organization dedicated to helping women survivors of war rebuild their lives. Women for Women International has served more than 475,000 women impacted by conflict through its yearlong program focused on vocational and business skills and health and rights training. Through our latest campaign, Match Her Courage, we hope to serve more women and engage more men as allies for gender equality.
Studies show that when we give to a worthy cause, the region of our brain responsible for cravings and pleasure lights up. Invest in your happiness and a woman’s empowerment. Sponsor a sister, in a marginalized area, engage with her through letters, and support her endeavors to change her life and her community. Learn about a woman who is courageous and motivated to be a driving force in the world. Fuel women’s happiness, and your own, to thrive, inspire, and build. Strong women build strong nations. For that, we can all be a little happier.