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y24We, human beings, are always looking for experiences, activities, and ideas to increase our sense of well-being.  The Science Daily recently reported on several studies indicating that when we sleep more, give away money, and spend money in experiences –not material things– our sense of well-being will increase.

 

Here is a summary:

 

Sleep:

People who experience gratitude are happier and healthier.  However, if people wish to feel more gratitude towards others, more sleep is needed.  Gratitude is a prosocial behavior that enhances our psychosocial well-being.  Unfortunately, many of us “pride” ourselves in getting by with little sleep.  There is plenty of research that confirms getting enough sleep strengthens our physical and our psychological health  The report remind us that indeed people who are grateful will usually have better sleep habits than those who don’t.

 

This time around, the research was done in reverse:  Do people who sleep well feel more gratitude?  The results say yes.  They found that if you don’t have a good night sleep, you will feel less grateful.  Even if you are grateful, this attitude will decrease and you will also feel selfish when you sleep poorly.  Having a bad night will also affect your appreciation towards your romantic partner.

 

They concluded:  “Poor sleep is not just experienced in isolation.  It influences our interactions with others, such as our ability to be grateful, a vital social emotion.”

 

Sharing your wealth and your time

We’ve known that giving to others and showing gratitude brings benefits not only to the receiver but to the giver as well.  The Science Daily reports that new research shows that “people all around the world derive more happiness from spending money on others than they do on themselves.”  Researchers say, “that when people give away money, there is a psychological benefit of increasing the giver’s sense of wealth.”  This investigation contributes to a large amount of previous studies confirming the benefits of this prosocial behavior.  Giving time to others apply as well.  When people give time to others, they feel like they have more time for themselves.

 

When we give and share, we are happier, we live longer and our immune system functions better.

 

Personally, I have a dear friend who is a single mom, barely making ends meet.  She is very charitable, more than others who have more money than her.  I don’t know if her sense of wealth increases psychologically, but I know she feels very happy by giving.

 

It’s always nice to see researchers confirm what many religions have taught for centuries.

 

Buying experiences rather than material purchases:

Researchers have found that people prefer to spend money on “experiential purchases, such as vacations, concerts, and meals out” rather than purchasing clothing, jewelry, or electronic gadgets.

 

What makes the difference?  They found that people want to talk about what they purchase and a purchased experience “prompts storytelling more than possessions do.”

 

People are happier when they are able to share their experiences.

 

Children and their sense of knowing what is best for others

Mothers have seen their three-year-olds “disobey” when given instructions.  But that might not necessarily be the case.  They may just see the situation differently.

 

For example, if an adult asks a child to give him a blue marker, and the child knows the blue marker is out of ink, the child will hand the adult a different marker.  Children as young as three-years of age will look for a better alternative that can benefit the other person.  Thus, the child may not be disobedient, she is just “thinking of a better alternative”.

 

At the same time, when children may have an experience with someone who they think is mean, they may “selectively decide not to help.”  Bottom line:  “Children don’t just blindly do as they are requested, but rather consider a person’s goal and consider alternative possible ways to achieve that goal.”

 

If you wish to read the whole article click here.

Society for Personality and Social Psychology (2013, January 19). Surprising connections between our well-being and giving, getting, and gratitude. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 20, 2013.

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