Happiness is probably the most important feeling in our lives. We either bask in it when we have it, or miss it (and go looking for it) when we don’t. Either way, most people believe that it’s just another emotion that comes and goes, and we can’t make it happen. But findings from research over the last decade have shown that there is much more to this positive state than meets the eye. Happiness is more than a measure of personal wellbeing – it is a crucial factor for physical health; it determines our work performance and success; it has a direct impact on the quality of our relationships; and it underpins a healthy community.

At the physiological level negative emotions have been found to hurt immune, cardiovascular, and endocrine functioning. Happy people on average tend to be healthier. They have healthier immune, endocrine, and cardiovascular systems, and have fewer illnesses and accidents. Happy people have better social relationships, which are more trusting, supportive, respectful, helpful, and cooperative. Happy people work better with others so output is increased, conflict decreased, and new ideas more likely to happen. Businesses that actively promote work satisfaction and happiness in their staff are more productive. And families that work towards building happy relationships are less likely to fall apart. Happy people are also better citizens and build the “social capital” of the community and the nation. They donate more money to charities, give more volunteer time to worthy causes, and are more accepting of others who are different.

Lack of happiness is very bad for overall health and levels of functioning. People who are depressed, fearful, and angry for long periods of time have problems with health, poor relationships with family and friends, and are not good citizens at their workplace or in the community, and often isolate themselves or actively engage in harmful or antisocial activities.

It is important to remember that happy people occasionally do feel unhappy. But they approach negative emotions differently. For example, if someone has upset them, they are more likely to take action to deal with the situation in a way that rebuilds the relationship. Or if an event has caused pain or distress, they are more likely to look for the “silver lining” or blessings arising from the situation. They typically spend less time worrying about the cause of their unhappiness, and more time exploring ways to move forward. And they typically take a bigger picture view of situations causing bad feelings, for example, using a personal life event to become actively involved in changing the world for the better rather than focusing only on their personal responses.

Life coaching is a great way to learn to manage your own happiness more effectively, to learn techniques for reducing the impact of bad emotions, and strengthen the good ones like happiness.

Published on January 8, 2016 by Kate Lemerle