Happiness Evangelist

The Place to Be Happy is Here…

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Happiness in Giving

Research in psychology, economics and neuroscience explore the correlational benefits of giving and happiness. Happier people give more and Giving causes happiness – operating in a circular fashion.

Happier People Give More

  • An experimental study by Isen and Levin (1972) showed that participants were more likely to help others after experiencing positive events such as receiving cookies or finding money left in a payphone.
  • Positive mood states have also been shown to increase altruism and increase helping and volunteering behavior (Harris & Huang 1973; Kazdin & Bryan 1971).
  • Wang and Graddy (2008) suggest that happy people are both more emotionally capable to help others and have more optimistic personalities, fostering charitable giving behavior.

Thus, people who felt good were more likely to provide help.

Giving Makes People Happier

  • MRI evidence shows that giving money to charity leads to similar brain activity in regions implicated in the brain for happiness and reward (Harbaugh, Mayr, and Burghart, 2007).
  • Meier and Stutzer (2008) demonstrated that volunteering increases life satisfaction in a longitudinal study of German households. They found that higher levels of volunteer work were associated with higher levels of overall life satisfaction and happiness.
  • Lyubomirsky, Tkach, and Sheldon (2004), simply ask people to commit five random acts of kindness a week for six weeks. They found that those who engaged in random acts of kindness were significantly happier than those who didn’t.
  • Altruistic financial behavior, such as gift giving and charitable donations, promotes happiness (Dunn, Aknin, & Norton, 2008).

Happier people give more and giving makes people happier.

Michael Norton and his colleagues at Harvard Business School (Lalin Anik, Lara B. Aknin, Michael I. Norton, Elizabeth W. Dunn (2009). Feeling Good about Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-Interested Charitable Behavior, Working Paper, 10-012, Harvard Business School) examine this relationship between giving and happiness.

Using an experiment, they tested the hypothesis that spending money on others (prosocial behavior) leads to higher happiness levels than spending money on oneself (anti-social behavior).

  • Participants were approached in person in the morning and asked to report their baseline happiness level.
  • Each participant received either $5 or $20 and was asked to spend the money on themselves or on others.
  • A follow up was done at the end of the day
  • It was found that those who spent the money on others (irrespective of the amount of money one received) were happier than those who spent it on themselves

Michael Norton concludes that money can indeed buy happiness if it is spent right, if it is not spent on the wrong things, if it is not spent on oneself J

You can watch him explain this at TEDx Cambridge: http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_norton_how_to_buy_happiness.html


Giving, certainly does make one HAPPY.


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Reduce . Reuse . Recycle . Restore . Replenish

Today, April 22 is observed as Earth Day.

Celebrated in 192 countries, it is coordinated by the Earth Day Network.

The concept was pioneered by John McConnell in 1969 at an UNESCO Conference at San Francisco.


Photo Courtesy: Greenpeace India

Let us on this day make a pledge to:






Make every day an EARTH DAY…for it is the only earth we’ve got!

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What Has Science Taught us about Happiness

“‘The science of a meaningful life’ has exploded over the past 10 years, with many more studies published each year on gratitude, mindfulness, and other core themes than we saw a decade ago” say Jason Marsh, Lauren Klein and Jeremy Adam Smith in their article: 10 Things Science Taught Us About Happiness in 2012. (http://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/10-things-science-taught-us-about-happiness-in-2012)

Three of the findings on living a meaningful life are:

  • Happiness is about RESPECT, not riches – research suggests that money doesn’t buy happiness. Those who felt accepted, liked, included and welcomed were happier than those who were simply wealthier. The study (Anderson, Cameron, Kraus, Michael W., Galinsky, Adam D. and Keltner, Dacher (2012). The Local-Ladder Effect Social Status and Subjective Well-being, Psychological Science, Jul 12, Vol 23 (7), pp 764 – 771) found that happiness is strongly correlated with the level of respect and admiration we receive from our peers, which is defined as ‘sociometric status’ (as opposed to socioeconomic status). “You don’t have to be rich to be happy; but instead be a valuable contributing member to your group”.
  • KINDNESS is its own reward – a study of children found that they spontaneously help people in need. They do this out of a deeply rooted concern for others and not the desire to please adults. Their kindness is motivated by deep, innate feelings of compassion for others. (Hepach, Robert, Vaish, Amrisha, Tomasello, Michael (2012). Young Children Are Intrinsically Motivated to See Others Helped, Psychological Science, Sep 12, Vol 23 (9), pp 967 – 972). They appeared happier when they gave away a treat rather than when they received one. “Performing altruistic acts that involve some kind of personal sacrifice made them happier than helping…at no cost to themselves” (http://pss.sagepub.com/cgi/content/long/23/9/967)
  • We can train ourselves to be more COMPASSIONATE – Stanford researcher Hooria Jazaieri and colleagues randomly assigned 100 adults to a nine-week compassion cultivation training program or to a ‘waitlist’ control condition. Participants completed surveys that measured compassion for others, receiving compassion from others and self-compassion, before and after taking the training program. Participants showed increases in compassion across the three parameters. This has far reaching implications for homes, companies and for society. (Jazaieri, Hooria et al. (2012). Enhancing Compassion: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Compassion Cultivation Training Program, Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012)


Three words-in-action that can transform our homes, our communities, our companies into happy places. 

Are you ready?  I am 🙂

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The Happiness Advantage

Shawn Achor in his book The Happiness Advantage makes the case for the fact that “the single greatest advantage in the modern economy is a happy and engaged workforce”.  His research of a decade shows that happiness raises nearly every business outcome: raising sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19%, as well as countless health and quality of life improvements.

In an experiment to test the ROI of investing in happiness at a Big 4 accounting firm, he found that a brief 3 hour training on positive psychology and a non-mandatory invitation to create a positive habit for 21 days created a high ROI not only in the short-term, but in the longer term as well.

He suggests that we can begin to do two things on our own.

First, to recognize that happiness is an advantage at work. This will encourage us to seek happiness in the present instead of waiting for a future success. As a result, our brain will have more resources necessary to accomplish work.

Second, we can literally train our brain for higher levels of happiness at work by creating habits. These change the pattern through which our brain views work.

  • Gratitude Journal – to write down 3 new things that we are grateful for each day;
  • Positive Experience – to write for 2 minutes a day describing one positive experience that we’ve had in the past 24 hours;
  • Exercise – for atleast 10 minutes a day;
  • Mediate – for atleast 2 minutes every day, focusing on the breath going in and out;
  • Random acts of kindness – to write one, quick email first thing in the morning thanking or praising a member on the team.

We can take the time to be grateful, focus on positive experiences, exercise, meditate and do random acts of kindness in order to create The Happiest Workplace.

(Shawn Achor is a lecturer at Harvard University, where he has studied with pioneers in the field of positive psychology. He is the co-designer of Harvard’s ‘Happiness’ course, one of the most popular in Harvard history. This article is adapted from his blog The Happiness Dividend, HBR Blog Network, June 23, 2011)

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Choose Happiness

After many years of work that was unfulfilling, Bronnie Ware searched for a job with a heart and found one in palliative care. As she spent time with the dying, her life was transformed. An article in her blog, which later on went on to become a best seller when she published it as a book, listed the most common regrets expressed to her by the people she had cared for.

One of the top 5 regrets was: I wish that I had let myself be happier

Many did not realise until the end that happiness was a choice. For those who stayed stuck in old patterns and habits, the familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as into their physical lives.

How wonderful it is to be able to let go and smile again.

Life is a choice.

We need to:

Choose consciously, wisely & honestly.