BY SOFO ARCHON
The most important factor determining happiness is our relationship with other people, and this is now proven by scientific research. In particular, studies have shown that those of us who have a more developed sense of empathy–that is, the ability to see from another’s perspective–feel more happy and experience a higher state of well-being.
All of us are born with empathy. This is evident from studies on babies who have been shown to cry when they hear a sound made by other babies crying, but they almost never cry when they hear a recording of their own cries. 
A study reported in the Journal of Science shows how simply performing acts of kindness can make us feel happier. Participants were divided in two groups, and each group was given a chunk of money. The first was requested to spend it on themselves, while the other to spend it as gifts to other people. The result from this study was that those who spent the money on others reported an increase in their happiness levels. 
Another study for which 3,000 people participated found that 95% of volunteers reported that after helping others, they experienced what psychologists have termed a “helper’s high”–that is, an increased sense of well-being both on an physical and emotional level, as well as enhanced energy and serenity. 
What these studies clearly point out to is that happiness is derived from giving and helping, not from hoarding and competing. In fact, research has found that that, on average, over 80% of our happiness is derived from friendly and loving relationships, spirituality, health, and work fulfillment, while only 7% is related to the possession of money. 
As you can undersand, the power of empathy is tremendous. Helping others can make you happy and improve your overall well-being. So from now on, whenever possible, perform acts of kindness and offer your help open-handedly to your fellow humans in need.
1. Marco Dondi, Francesca Simion, and Giovanna Caltran, “Can Newborns Discriminate Between Their Own Cry and the Cry of Another Newborn Infant?” Developmental Psychology 35, no 2 (1999): 418-426
2. Elsa Youngsteadt, “The Secret to Happines? Giving,” ScienceNOW, March 20, 20088, 2. http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2008/03/20-02.html
3. Allan Luks and Peggy Payne, The Healing Power of Doing Good (New York: Ballantine, 1992), 81
4. Tim Jackson, Prosperity Without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet (London: Earthscan, 2009), 37
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