Making others happy : the best route to one's own happiness?
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There are many positive psychology interventions whose aim is to help people improve their levels of happiness and well-being, some of which work fairly well. However, there are very few interventions in which people are asked to try to improve another’s well-being instead of focusing on their own. In this research we show that, ironically, trying to make others happy is a more effective route to personal happiness than trying to make oneself happier. Study 1 shows that trying to make someone else happier leads to a higher well-being level than trying to make oneself happier. These data have also extended previous research by differentiating between actively trying to improve another person’s happiness, and simply socializing with others, finding that the latter is not as beneficial as the former. We also found that the difference between the conditions was mediated by relatedness need satisfaction. In Study 2, we replicated all the findings of Study 1. Moreover, we saw how the experience of the target of happiness-boosting activity interacts with experience of a person who is performing the activity. Contrary to our prediction, we were unable to find a connection between participant’s and target’s well-being or need satisfaction. However, we found that the more successful participant perceived themselves in the performance of the activity the more well-being improvement they experienced.