I came across the following article about finding happiness through other people, on twitter and found it useful in connection with my current research in the field of happiness (more of these blog posts to feature in the near future).
The Happiness Experiment:
50 people were asked to enter a room filled with balloons. They had an unexpected surprise.
Once a group of 50 people was attending a seminar. Suddenly the speaker stopped and decided to do a group activity. He started giving each one a balloon. Each one was asked to write his/her name on it using a marker pen. Then all the balloons were collected and put in another room.
Now these delegates were let in that room and asked to find the balloon which had their name written, within 5 minutes. Everyone was frantically was frantically searching for their name, colliding with each other, pushing around others and there was utter chaos.
At the end of 5 minutes no one could find their own balloon. Now each one was asked to randomly collect a balloon and give it to the person whose name was written on it. Within minutes everyone had their own balloon.
The speaker began – exactly this is happening in our lives. Everyone is frantically looking for happiness all around, not knowing where it is.
Our happiness lies in the happiness of other people. Give them their happiness; you will get your own happiness. And this is the purpose of human life.
Needless to say then, happiness is all around us, if we choose to see it. It is all framed in the way that we interact with other people and our thought patterns. No doubt this small but rather significant experiment got me thinking about the impact of these findings in relation to our daily lives.
This experiment also reminded me of the famous story about the long spoons and the Hell and Heaven, many years ago which goes like this:
Difference between Heaven and Hell
A man was curious about the difference between hell and heaven, so he was first taken to hell and what he observed was that there were tables of food and people condemned to hell sat at the tables were given spoons which were much too long to feed themselves with. The man observed that these people continued to try to feed themselves with a lot of difficulty and suffered from starvation.
When the man was led to heaven, he observed that the setting was exactly the same as hell but the atmosphere was different. The people seated in heaven had spoons which were also much too long for them to feed themselves.
But the main difference he observed between the two identical settings was that in hell the individuals were selfishly attempting to feed themselves whereas in heaven the people figured that the spoons were much too long to reach their own mouth so instead these heavenly creatures indulged each other by using the length of the spoon to feed the nearest person they could reach. This way each and every single one of them could enjoy the wonderful bounties which lay before them.
Both of the above narratives are classic examples of finding happiness through the giving of happiness to other people. When we spread this wonderful form of positive energy, we feel rejuvenated and happy within ourselves, especially when we see another person’s face light up with the joy given by us.
It is so easy to irk other people and to make them angry, pointing out negative and critical aspects about them by making uncalled for judgments. However it takes time, effort and creativity to make another person smile. Sometimes just a smile from you can go a long way in this process.
Initially, I too, was looking for that balloon with my own name on it before realising that making other people happy makes our inner souls feel happy in return. Little acts of kindness towards other people almost on a daily basis do in fact make a huge difference in experiencing huge impacts of happiness within your inner soul.
On a personal level, I thought I had found happiness by separating from my ex-partner and diving deep into activities and things I believed I had neglected and were the core of my deeper happiness. I went from loving a family to becoming single and initially lonely all because I believed my inner needs were not being met. I had become so used to living a life of a single person I often forgot that sometimes singletons can become rather self-centred and selfish as they do not have another person to focus on as well as themselves.
So the next time you are with family and friends ask yourself: “How can I help this person?” instead the self-centred question of “What am I getting out of this?” When you are attentive to the needs of other people, that feeling of goodness spreads all over you and makes you feel that you have done the right thing. What is the psychology behind this feeling of goodness? Well that’s a whole new blog post!
In the meantime, enjoy making people who are important to you and around you, happy in many different creative ways and you will share the delight in this too…. try it before you knock it!
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Balloon Experiment wording from https://twitter.com/GooglePics dated March 28th 2014 Image Background: Image Writing edited by MsAprilshowers.com