Finding Happiness Through Other People

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).

Happiness Balloons

Happiness Balloons

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  dated March 28th 2014 Image Background: Image Writing edited by

Learning from the Fear of Failure

 “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy

To Encounter Failure

To Encounter Failure

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“You’ll Never be brave if you don’t get hurt. You’ll never learn if you don’t make mistakes. You’ll never be successful if you don’t encounter failure.”

Many years ago when I was young and rather more fearful I may add, it eluded me that failure was something to be learned from. I had the state of mind that you either were a success or not. It never once crossed my innocent mind that failure is an intrinsic part of success.

So what is wrong with being a failure?

In my rather ignorant, naive eyes and limited interpretation of the world, everything was wrong with being a failure! I may have appeared to be a success in the eyes of other people, but the device with which I measured my own personal level of success always returned the same verdict – I was a total failure!

As maturation allowed my mind to expand, I realised that there had been many missed opportunities in my lifetime simply because I was afraid of actual failure. It was a word which evoked the feeling of fear at the very mention of it because I lacked confident in my own strength and ability. My uniqueness was often overlooked as I compared myself to that of more successful people.

Today I have come a long way and learned many a lesson in this field. Indeed failure has actually enriched my life in many ways. But how, you may ask? I have learned that:

Giving up is the only sure way to fail.” – Gena Showalter

Once I realised that I had been running away from failure all my life by simply avoiding it, I began to address this issue rather more seriously. I worked out that whenever I had been faced with various options I unconsciously chose the easier option which always helped me to bypass failure because I never really had to face up to it. But when eventually everything I had been afraid of finally caught up with me and I saw my life crumble around me because I could no longer keep up the pretence that everything was alright when it simply wasn’t, I finally learned that failure can teach us many things.

 “If you don’t try at anything, you can’t fail… it takes back bone to lead the life you want” – Richard Yates

One of the lessons I learned was that as a deadly seven letter word, failure can send a shiver of fear down many a strong spine. We either face failure by doing everything in our power to avoid it or we adhere to it. There are no two ways about it. You can either accept it gracefully or rant about it miserably by blaming everything else around you. It all boils down to your mental and emotional state of mind.

It is so much easier to blame the external factors but to truly learn from failure you must accept your own responsibilities and weaknesses. Granted, it is not always your fault you have failed, there may perhaps be elements designed to deter you or to create a blockage but if you view these as challenges rather than problems, there is so much less to fear from failure.

Fear of Failure

Fear of Failure

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“There is only one thing which makes a dream impossible to achieve and that is the fear of failure.” – Paulo Coelho

Failure can seem like a heavy burden in life which can push us down to our deepest depths of despair. Failure, although can crush us initially, when we actually register it and analyse it, there is much it can teach us. Many an important lesson can be learned as failure helps us to become stronger than ever before.

Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing.” – J.K. Rowling

Failure is the pathway to achieving success. Each time you fail you are a little closer to success. In this respect, failure represents another opportunity to build resilience and strength of character as well as patience and problem solving skills. If you remain determined, you will most definitely succeed and failure is simply another step towards success. In fact failure itself strengthens you for the sweet success that seems to have eluded you but with persistence will be yours for the taking.

Failure can be used as a motivator to urge you to do your best and to achieve something bigger and brighter and we all know that feeling of success being even sweeter after a string of failures. There is no feeling like that feeling of triumph after difficult challenges have been overcome.

When you analyse what made you fail, you become wiser and better equipped to try again. Slow and steady encourages consolidation and time to reflect on other factors.  Failure is a sure sign that at the very least you have tried to do something towards your desire and learned a lesson instead

For failure is life’s best teacher. It teaches us how not to do things. In some cases it may even be a breakthrough to something you had not even considered a possibility! As Thomas A. Edison answered when questioned about the numerous times he had failed in his attempts at creating the light bulb:I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” 

I end appropriately with the words of Henry Ford: “Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.

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Science of Love Research by Helen Fisher

Love on the Brain

Image Source: Love on the Brain –

Falling in love may appear to be a state of dreamy bliss but scientifically it is an infusion of various hormonal chemicals. With such a strong concoction of hormones racing through your bloodstream, it causes you to behave in all sorts of unusual ways. Although love itself is experienced differently by each individual, the chemistry behind the feeling has the same biological explanation. Love on the brain are chemicals in the bloodstream.

Helen Fisher Research

Falling in love has been compared to feeling giddy and scientifically the brain of someone falling in love is virtually the same as the brain of someone losing control. One of the best known researchers in the field of the science behind the love factor is of course Helen Fisher of Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Helen Fisher’s research has led her to conclude that there are 3 distinctive phases involved in the science of falling in love and furthermore there are 3 different sets of hormones involved during the 3 phases throughout the whole process of falling in love and staying in love.

External Signs of Love:

Sweaty palms, racing heartbeat, increased blood pressure, flushed cheeks and dilated pupils all signal the arousal of a person.

Internal Signs of Love: Biochemistry – The hormones involved in the emotion of romantic love.

Hormones behind the Science of Love

Hormones behind the Science of Love

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1. Lust – Testosterone and Oestrogen

Although testosterone is a hormone mainly associated with men, when it comes to attraction and love, it also plays a major part in the body of a woman. Testosterone and oestrogen are the precursor that encourages you to look for a partner and lust over them in both men and women.

2. Attraction – Neurotransmitters – Dopamine, Norepinephrine and Serotonin

This second stage is the one we are all familiar with when we become love-struck. It is the stage which overwhelms a person and affects everything they do because all they can think about is the person of their desire. It is an overwhelming wonderful feeling but simultaneously can be frustrating and draining. Nothing else seems to matter and daydreaming about the loved one is uppermost on the mind.

Adrenaline is released during the initial stages, bringing about the physical changes in the body as it increases your stress levels causing you to sweat and keep the heart racing and even your mouth goes dry.

Neurotransmitters give you a feeling of euphoria and allow you to keep your attention focused on the person of your desire:

a)     Norepinephrine is a stimulant keeping you alert, thereby causing lack of sleep during those early weeks of obsession with the loved one. It also allows a person to remember in detail everything about the person they are obsessing over.

b)     Phenylethylamine (PEA) – This causes the feeling of giddiness, excitement and euphoria. When PEA levels fall, the resulting effect is a depressive state of mind.

Dopamine enhances the release of testosterone and affects various parts of the body e.g. sweat glands and the senses more and everything around you looks more attractive as your senses have a deepened sense of appreciation. Dopamine affects the mood and the emotions, making you feel happier than usual.

Serotonin – This makes the person you lust after remain constantly on your mind. A feeling of intense pleasure is ignited when these hormones are at play thus setting off the reward system to want more of the same.

The neurotransmitters carried in the blood stream and transmitted to various parts of the sensitive body causes them to send messages back to the brain. So even anticipation can cause a biological response and a stimulation of the reward system which may make us ultimately to seek more of what makes us feel “good”. Initial stages of lust can cause the reward system (controlled by the nervous system) of the brain to feel satisfaction even with the smallest of gestures such as a touch or even looking at the photo of the desired person.

3. Attachment – Oxytocin, Vasopressin

Attachment is the final stage in keeping a couple together long enough to bring up offspring. Attachment happens as it is impossible to remain in the attraction stage forever and the following two hormones take over:

Oxytocin – Promotes bonding which grows deeper with the passing of time, during intimacy between couples. This hormone is also released during the breast feeding stage of a mother and child, helping the bond between them to grow strong. When the feelings of lust calm down they are replaced with the this chemical

Vasopressin – Helps long term commitment. The main role of this hormone is to control the kidney function.

Research has further found that overall men tend to be attracted the looks of a female and a woman is heavily influenced by the smell of a man. She is especially attracted to men who have a different immune system to herself which makes him a more attractive potential partner. The male sweat androstadienone causes the mood of women to improve and increases arousal levels.

Dr Helen Fisher found that “This stimulation sparks the release of brain chemicals called monoamines.” This refers to serotonin and dopamine which cause the feeling of excitement to excel, allowing you to feel “love”. It is a time when all our senses seem to come alive and we experience everything far more intensely than we did before.

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