“Happiness is only real when shared”
- Chris McCandles
Traveler and vagabond Chris McCandles came to this conclusion at the far end of his journey across America. He scribbled this onto a page of his copy of Doctor Zhivago in a trailer that he was living out of, deep into the Alaskan wilderness. He died months after, of starvation, without ample resources to keep him sustained.
The old adage goes – "A problem shared is a problem halved." Sharing our successes and positive experiences uplift our mood and keep us happier for longer. Now research has proved that sharing truly brings us happiness.
Let’s discuss how sharing and happiness is correlated.
We have shared with others since the beginning of civilization and interaction. It is one of the primary ways we learn to communicate. As kids, we are taught to share by our parents and are resistant to this act as we are instinctively territorial. However, we learn to share when we notice the kind of joy that it brings to the person we choose to share ourselves and our belongings with.
Some cultures more than others, encourage sharing. People from these cultures open up their homes to traveling visitors and those curious about learning of their cultural practices. However, sharing doesn't always need to be this grand gesture. It can be as fundamental as exchanging compliments or pleasantries. Simple acts like these can also brighten up a person's day and make them feel more positive.
When a person shares or feels grateful, their brains release Oxytocin. Oxytocin helps build trust, relieve stress and anxiety, improve immune function and benefit your overall wellbeing as a result. When an individual is in possession of generous levels of Oxytocin in his/her body, they are more empathetic towards others and feel more generous than they would in normal circumstances.
Giving is contagious. So when a person high on Oxytocin starts this chain of generosity, they help foster the sentiment of giving in the community which makes the community happier as a whole. You can gain Oxytocin even by making online donations, you need not have to physically share in person to experience the benefits of the hormone.
When you share your belonging with another person, you are expressing trust in their capability to keep your possession safe and out of harm’s way. You are taking a chance on them. If your trust pays off in this individual, you experience a sense of happiness. We tend to be more emotionally satisfied and happy when we are able to foster trust in our relationships. Trust and happiness are closely intertwined experience. In fact, trust is almost a prerequisite for happiness. You cannot be happy in a relationship if you cannot share trust with the person you're involved in this relationship with.
The act of giving and receiving both invokes gratitude in the participants of the exchange. The receiver is thankful for the gift and the giver feels gratitude for being able to have that exchange. Gratitude, as we all know, contributes to a person's ability to feel happiness. When a person is able to feel gratitude for all that he/she has been blessed with, they are more inclined to feel happy and content. When you cultivate a sense of gratitude in your everyday life, you keep happier. Sharing this gratitude with others not only makes you feel happy but the person on the receiving end of this gratitude too. It inspires that person to keep being kind and giving. Additionally, it also solidifies further the bond that you both share – contributing to happiness for both parties involved.
Humans are social animals. Our happiness depends to a large extent on the presence of social support. If we happen to have encouraging and supportive friends and family to rely on, we are less prone to anxiety and depression. However, if we tend to lack a reliable social support system in our lives, our happiness can suffer. Sharing helps build new relationships. Say, you are at a supermarket, and you see the person in queue standing before you struggling to fish out change from their purse. If you have ready change and are willing to help them, you are at a place to start a dialogue with this person. Sharing helps initiate positive social interactions. If you found this other person to be reciprocating of your communication, then you could perhaps interact further and grow into acquaintances. Social isolation takes away from the longevity of your life while social interaction adds to it. Social interactions advance your health, wealth and general wellbeing.
When you share your responsibilities with others, you open up space for others to cooperate and collaborate with you. Such cooperation received from another helps you feel connected to this person. Feeling connected to another human being can do wonders for an individual seeking to feel and experience happiness. Cooperation is the foundation for community welfare. A happy community automatically means that the active and participating members of the community must be happy too.
We’ve all been taught from the time of our birth that sharing is caring. Science verifies this truth. The more we share, the happier we make ourselves. Sharing need not be practiced in terms of material. Sharing can be equally immaterial. You can share embraces, smiles, pleasant words, experiences, stories and so much more. You can even share tasks and responsibilities. No matter in which capacity you choose to share, sharing inspires positive feelings in our mind. It builds trust in others and helps us build better relationships, which in turn sustain us socially for the rest of our lives. Still, want to be like Joey? Go share that sandwich!
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