Nearly three thousands years since his passing, Harvard have just confirmed that what Buddha said about happiness is absolutely right.
Buddha’s lessons in happiness usually revolved around the idea of living a life of compassion and kindness (and indeed science previously proved that kindness and compassion are incredibly important).
Now, after some 80 years of research, Harvard has proven Buddha correct. And they have some key advice on how to achieve happiness in life.
Unfortunately, it turns out that the vast majority of people do not do the one thing that is proven to make us all happy. [well, along with these meditations for happiness]
According to Harvard, we are living lives of isolation and this is preventing us from being happy.
Harvard’s research started in the 1930’s
INC tells us, “Starting in the late 1930s, a team of researchers has been tracking a total of 268 Harvard graduates from the classes of 1939 to 1944, along with 456 young men who happened to have been growing up in inner city Boston around the same time.
Over time, it’s turned into one of the most extensive longitudinal studies ever, and has revealed a trove of insights. Perhaps the most famous and useful insight is this oft-repeated quote by Robert J. Waldinger, who is the current head of the study:
The one lessons from all this study is this: Good relationships make us happier and healthier.
But it gets much deeper than that.
Why What Buddha Said About Happiness Was Right
Buddha taught that the ultimate state a person could reach is to reach enlightenment.
An enlightened being is one who has detached themselves from attachment. The enlightened, freeing themselves, then live to help other people. They are the kindest, most compassionate people in the world [READ: Meditation for Compassion]. They live to end the suffering of others, to spread peace, and to help out their Sangha, or “community”, and to help the people around them.
And it turns out that those very things are the keys to happiness.
If you want happiness, have good relationships and help out others.
But this is a problem in the West, where loneliness is an epidemic.
Just consider these facts:
- 40% of Americans say they feel they lack meaningful relationships
- 20 percent says they are lonely or isolated
- 28 percent of adults live alone
So, what do we do about this?
Here is where what Buddha said about happiness is absolutely spot on
Buddha taught his followers to look around their communities and around the world at large and to find ways to help people to end suffering. He knew that this would a) help the world, and b) help his followers find inner peace and enlightenment.
Now science has proven that one of the best ways to end loneliness and to find happiness is to volunteer. [which just so happens to be one of the activities in our list of hobbies that make you happy]
- In a study of 10,000 people in the U.K, two-thirds of volunteers said that volunteering makes them feel less isolated and happiness. 
- A similar study of 6,000 widowed women found that those who volunteer experience lower rates of loneliness and improved happiness.
- And in another study, it was proven that elderly people who find ways to help out by volunteering are more likely to enjoy meaningful relationships and increased happiness.
So, what Buddha said about happiness is right: look for ways to help out in the community and to help other people.
But while we were receiving this news, we were hit with another story, one that shocked us. Read it below.
More Interesting Studies On Happiness Are Coming In Today Too
At the same time Harvard made the above announcement, more studies about happiness were coming through to THE DAILY MEDITATION’s office.
One story in particular struck a chord with us: The revelation that women who get married and have kids are less happy and die younger.
Women are happier without children or a spouse
The Guardian tells us:
“Science backs it up: unmarried and childless women are the happiest subgroup in the population. And they are more likely to live longer than their married and child-rearing peers, according to a leading expert in happiness.
“Paul Dolan, [professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics] said “Married people are happier than other population subgroups, but only when their spouse is in the room when they’re asked how happy they are. When the spouse is not present: fucking miserable… if you’re a man, you should probably get married; if you’re a woman, don’t bother.”
Marriage makes men happier because it calms them down. Women, however, end up dying sooner than if they’d never gotten married or had kids.
Although this could all be an attempt to garner publicity as Dolan has just published his new book, Happy Ever After, which aims to teach women to be happy by not getting married.
What do you think? Does marriage make you happier? Leave a comment.