The 3rd Happiness “Sin”: the Need to Be Loved
If you have ever been in love, you know that when you are in love, it feels like nothing is more important than to be in close proximity you’re your partner. Being in love feels positive, potent and powerful all at once and unsurprisingly therefore, is universally rated as one of our most cherished experiences. That is why seeking emotional connection with others ia a central feature of human existence.
John Cacioppo, a researcher who has spent a considerable part of his impressive career exploring the effects of feeling psychologically separated from others, finds that feeling lonely is perhaps the single biggest determinant of a host of psychological and physiological illnesses, ranging from depression and insomnia to obesity and diabetes. Interestingly, it is perceived (and not actual) loneliness that matters.Connection Increases Happiness
There are numerous studies that confirm that a sense of connection with others is one of our most important needs. One study explored what differentiated the top 10% of the happiest people from the rest of the participants in the study. They found that every single one in the happiest group had at least one intimate relationship. This finding indicates that if you wish to belong to the very happiest group, having a strong relationship is not a luxury—it’s a necessity.
As critical as being loved is for being happy, the pursuit of this desire is also the cause of much misery and suffering. This is because there is a thin line separating a healthy desire for love and connection, and an unhealthy desire for it. A healthy desire for connection is manifested in, what researchers call, a “secure attachment” style. Those who exhibit secure attachment strike a fine balance between seeking love and connection and not being desperate for it. They are comfortable seeking intimacy and not feeling threatened of others attempts at seeking it. Those who exhibit an unhealthy desire for connection, by contrast, either become desperate in their desire for intimacy—a tendency that may be referred to as “neediness”—or feel threatened when others seek intimacy with them—a tendency that may be called “avoidance.”The 3rd Habit of the Highly Happy: the Need to Love (and Give)
It is scientifically proven that need to love is a hard-wired in human beings, then it follows that being generous and kind is makes us happy. One reason is that it takes the focus away from one’s own worries and problems towards others worries and problems.
Another reason why being kind and generous boosts happiness is because of reciprocity: people are, grateful when you are kind and generous to them, and this in turn boosts their happiness levels. Findings show strong evidence that being generous elicits gratitude—via, for example, smiles and “thank yous”—and that this, in turn, boosts happiness levels.
Yet another reason why being kind and generous boosts happiness is because it, remarkably, improves overall health. Findings show that, people who provide support to others report better overall physical health. The final and perhaps most compelling reason why being generous boosts happiness levels is because of the story we tell ourselves about who we are. When we are nice to others, we tell ourselves the story that we are kind and big-hearted. What’s truly remarkable about this is that we don’t need to be extravagantly generous in order to feel good about it—even a small gesture of generosity will do.
Here are the main conclusions that scientists have reached in studies of giving and generosity:
• We all have a deep-seated desire to be kind and generous—something that I call the need to love and give
• Being loving and giving can boost not just our happiness, but also our chances of success—but only if done right (i.e., when we follow the three essential rules for giving)
• The three essential rules of giving are: i) contain cost of giving, ii) use value enhancing strategies, and iii) get to see the impact of your giving
In conclusion: The need to love (and to give) much more reliably determines happiness and success than the need to be loved.The 3rd Happiness Exercise – Creative AltruismIntroduction
Remember how we used to play pranks on others when we were kids—like let the air out of someone’s bicycle? In this exercise too, you’ll be asked to play a prank, except that, it won’t be just you who’s having fun; the "victim" of your prank will be having lots of fun too!Goal
The objective is to assess whether being kind or generous is as reliable a source of happiness for you as it was found to be in some scientific studies.Steps
The exercise has four steps:
1. The first stage involves inventing your "altruistic joke". Your idea might include: leaving a box of black chocolate candies in front of your favorite neighbor's door. Or dress like Mickey Mouse, stand on the corner of a busy street and give hugs to passers-by. Once you've chosen an idea, write it down.
2. This step involves typing out your idea and coming up with a concrete plan to execute it. Exactly when and how are you going to carry out your plan? If your plan is to leave a box of chocolate outside your neighbor’s door, think:
• When are you going to buy the chocolate and from where? What size?
• When (at what time) will you leave the bag outside your neighbor’s door?
• Will the box be gift-wrapped? If so, who will do it?
3. This third step is the most important one, ion which you execute your idea. In executing the idea, keep in mind the "three rules for giving":
• Contain your cost of giving. Make sure you don’t overwhelm yourself - or your resources.
• Fun for both parties: Do something that's fun not just for others, but for yourself as well, and finally,
• See the impact: Make sure that you are there to see the impact of your act on the recipient. So, for example, if you leave a box of chocolates for your neighbors, be sure to watch their reactions when they see the box.
4. The step needs to be completed after you have implemented your "creative altruism" act. Answer the following four questions:
• What was your idea/plan?
• How did you execute the idea? Did you stick to the "3 rules for giving" If not, why not?
• What did the recipient feel? In answering this question focus on what the recipient said/did when he/she experienced your act.
• How did it make you feel? What effect did the entire exercise have on you?