The true secret to happiness is in the expression of generosity when we are helping others.
University of North Carolina researchers have completed a study of the genes of volunteers, comparing the levels of inflammation in their priming cells when they performed “hedonistic” activities – enjoying good food, shopping for a luxury item, vs. when they engaged in doing something that contributed to the betterment of others or society, providing a sense of purpose, an act of generosity.
The results showed that hedonistic activities, might provide short-term happiness, but resulted in longer term negative consequences due to higher levels of inflammation in their priming cells; inflammation that is linked to a variety of illnesses including cancer and cardiovascular disease.
People who engaged in service activities, contributing generously in the lives of others and their community, showed gene patterns with less inflammation and stronger immunity.
This is best summed up by researcher Barbara L. Fredrickson, a Kenan Distinguished Professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:
“We can make ourselves happy through simple pleasures, but those ’empty calories’ don’t help us broaden our awareness or build our capacity in ways that benefit us physically. At the cellular level, our bodies appear to respond better to a different kind of well-being, one based on a sense of connectedness and purpose.”
*~ Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson-lyrics from the 1st solo single for Diana Ross