In her book The Happiness Project, writer Gretchen Rubin spent an entire year of her life devoted to doing things that would make her feel happier. While we wish we had the time, resources and energy to do that, most of us can’t put our lives on pause to achieve this admirable goal. Instead, there’s one thing we’re all capable of doing that is proven to invite more happiness into our lives: engaging in and improving personal relationships.
Your brother-in-law was just promoted to senior executive at work. The lady who watches your dog while you’re away just won a sizeable amount of money by playing the lottery. And you? You just met somebody at your Bikram Yoga class who asked you out for tea and now you’ve started dating.
Here’s a question for you: which one of you is happiest?
According to various psychologists and studies, neither job status nor wealth has a more significant impact on our emotional well-being than having a fulfilling personal relationship.
In research conducted by the London School of Economics and reported on by the BBC, scientists surveyed 200,000 people to examine how external factors affected their overall contentment with life. Using a scale of 1 to 10, the findings revealed that doubling one’s pay resulted in a mere 0.2 boost in happiness, while meeting somebody who a person could relate to and view as a partner scored 0.6 on the scale.
While your brother-in-law and your dog-walker both have more measurable versions of success—the clout that comes with a higher job title and more economic freedom—true joy is actually found in making deeper connections with other people. That’s not just exclusive to romantic relationships, either. People are happier being around other people who share their interests, their backgrounds or even their senses of humour.
So while you may not be able to take 365 days to only do things that make you happy, or you’re in a bit of a career rut, or even if your bank balance is much lower than you like, don’t despair! The key to happiness could be a long conversation with your best friend. Why don’t you take this advice and give her a call right now?