Have you ever been told that your happiness was selfish? I bet you have. “They” say concern for our own well being is something that should really be at the bottom of our list in terms of priorities or that we are being greedy or petty when we take our own happiness into account. The truth is that when we make our happiness a priority good things happen for us and for those around us. In fact, the contagiousness of feeling good virtually guarantees that if we are happy, we are making the world a better place for those we love the most.
By the way, when I am talking about making your own happiness a priority, I am not talking about thinking only of your own needs. Please don’t say to yourself “OK, Rob says my happiness is important, so I’m going to stuff my face full of poutine, buy a red convertible on credit and move to Antigua with a bunch of bathing suit models because that will make me happy!”
I’m not talking about living like we’re Led Zeppelin in 1976, or Russel Brand in 2002, I’m talking about making our daily happiness something that we care about and take into consideration.
Believe it or not, this takes discipline. It is attained not so much by going after our every sensory based desire (although, I’m all for sensory based desires) but by doing simple activities that have been proven to make us feel good, right now and in the long term as well.
“Happiness is contagious” is said so often that its a bit of a cliche, but did you know that its actually, quantifiably true? A little out fit called The Harvard Medical School (you may have heard of them) did a study called “Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study” (which is really such a catchy title that it should be a pop song by Katy Perry).
In this study they found that if you were a friend of someone and lived within 1 mile of them your chance of being happy went up by 25%! Wow! If we can extrapolate (and heck why not?) that would mean that by being happy ourselves, we are actually increasing the chances of our friends and family who live close to us by 25%. Really, you are doing the world a huge chunk of good if you are happy. Isn’t that great? I think it is. So, to answer our first question, Is your happiness selfish? Nope! In fact, you being happy is one of the most generous things you can do for the world.