During this time of year the subject of happiness seems to come up quite a bit. Tis’ the season. What is happiness all about?


Many scientists have tried to answer that question. One of the major studies was the Harvard Grant Study. In this study the researchers followed 268 male Harvard undergraduates from the classes of 1938-1940 for 75 years.  They collected data at regular intervals and found some very interesting information.


  1. First and foremost love is the answer. Regardless of how much money, health and success the subjects had they were only happy if they had love and supportive relationships in their lives.
  2. Having money and power did not correlate with happiness. Rather, contentment with work is what really mattered.
  3.  Even if you are unhappy in the early part of your life, you can find happiness later. One of the subjects had been sad and suicidal early in life but found happiness later by making connections with others.


There have been several other studies that have added to the above conclusions:


  • A study done at San Francisco University in 2009 found that sending money on experiences vs. possessions brings more happiness.  Seeing a play or going out for a meal brought more satisfaction because of human connection.


  • A study at the University of Pennsylvania found that expressing gratitude brings happiness.


  • At Claremont University, researchers found that oxytocin; the hormone that helps with human connection increases happiness. Oxytocin can increase with 8 hugs a day.


  • A study at Michigan State found that those who smile are happier. Want to improve your mood? Smile!


  • At the University of California, San Diego, researchers found that those who surround themselves with happy people are happier.


  • At the University of British Columbia, children who were kind were more accepted by their peers and that made them happier.


  • At the University of Bristol, those who exercise on workdays are happier and better able to handle stress.


  • Research at Exeter Medical School found that volunteering benefits mental health, well-being and overall satisfaction in life.


  • A study at the University of California Berkeley found that spending more money on others resulted in greater happiness.


Here is the bottom line summary: To find happiness, seek love and human connection. There are certain things that can enhance the feeling.  These include expressing gratitude and kindness, being surrounded by happy people, volunteering and helping others. Finally, it is time to smile and work on giving at least 8 hugs a day.


“The purpose of our lives is to be happy”


The Dalai Lama