May 5, 2014

Greetings! I trust that this will find you well and enjoying life.

Social media is a powerful force in our society today. Lately I’ve seen a lot of articles and studies on how much value it actually provides in our lives. The juries not in on it yet and only time will tell how much it actually improves our quality of life. The following studies provide valuable insight into happiness and how much control we have over in regards to socialization.

Does buying an iPhone or going out to dinner make you happy? Studies show that people who chose to spend money on experiences, such as travel, theatre or hang gliding, tend to be happier than those who prefer to buy items. Researchers observe that one reason may be because “things” tend to be more isolating and promote less interaction, whereas an activity or experience tends to involve sharing the experience with other people, leading them to believe that socialization promotes happiness.

In a recent study, 60 percent of participants who use social media reported that they did not feel happier after spending time on these websites. This may be because people tend to share happier or more extraordinary events in their lives through these outlets, leaving those observing feeling somewhat slighted or less engaged. However, for people who tend to be shy or introverted, participating in social media allows them to become more engaged and in turn produces a more positive experience.

Interestingly, while it is natural for individuals to feel sad from time to time, an effective means of buffering against or drawing a person out of a sad state can be social support. The impact can be both psychological and biological.

Another factor that contributes to happiness is authenticity and meaning. Even if your experiences are not always positive, if they are meaningful to you and provide a richness to your life, they are more likely to contribute to your happiness. One example of this is having children. In comparison studies, parents report only slightly higher levels of happiness than adults without children. This is likely because of all of the blood, sweat, tears and worry that can accompany raising a child. However, parents tend to report higher levels of meaningfulness and purpose in their lives.

A study of children compared those asked to perform three “acts of kindness” per week versus a control group. Not only did the study group report higher levels of happiness throughout the experiment, but an interesting finding was that they also tended to become more popular among their peer groups.

These studies pose interesting insights into the power of human interactions and connections compared to social media and material possessions. Perhaps the most effective way for each of us to increase our happiness is to look within to assess what gives us the most joy, and replicate those factors as often as possible.

If I can provide information or help in any way don’t hesitate to call.

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