We've all heard that money doesn't buy happiness, and that's certainly true. But there is one way to get it: Give money away.
The evidence is clear that gifts to charitable organizations and other worthy causes bring substantial life satisfaction to the givers.
People who give money to charity are 44 percent more likely than non-givers to say they're very happy. Volunteers are 41 percent more likely to be very happy than non-volunteers. It does not matter whether the gifts of money go to churches or symphony orchestras; religious giving and secular giving leave people equally happy, and far happier than people who don't give.
The Founders listed liberty right up there with the pursuit of happiness as an objective that merited a struggle for our national independence. In fact, freedom and happiness are intimately related: People who consider themselves free are a lot happier than those who don't. In 2000 the General Social Survey revealed that people who personally feel "completely free" or "very free" were twice as likely as those who don't to say they're very happy about their lives.
Not all types of freedom are the same in terms of happiness, however. Researchers have shown that economic freedom brings happiness, as does political and religious freedom. On the other hand, moral freedom a lack of constraints on behavior does not. People who feel they have unlimited moral choices in their lives when it comes to matters of sex or drugs, for example, tend to be un-happier than those who do not feel they have so many choices in life.
Americans appear to under -stand this quite well. When poll-sters asked voters in the 2004 Presidential election what the most important issue facing America was, the issue voters chose above all others was "moral values." This beat out the economy, terrorism, the Iraq war, education, and health care as people's primary concern. Pundits and politicians would certainly like us to think otherwise, and critics scoffed at the conclusion, interpreting it as evidence that ordinary Americans were out of touch. But moral values are critical to Americans. This suggests that, as a people, we do best by protecting our political and economic freedoms and guarding against a culture that sanctions licentiousness.
Job Satisfaction leads to happiness
People who say they are very happy in their lives, 96 percent are also satisfied with their jobs. Furthermore, job satisfaction would seem to be causing overall happiness, not the other way around.
Lessons for America
The data tell us that what mat -ters most for happiness is not having a lot of things but having healthy values. Without these values, our jobs and our economy will bring us soulless toil and joyless riches. Our edu -cation will teach us nothing. There will be no reason to fight or to make peace, for that matter to protect our way of life. Our health-care system will keep us healthier, but what's the point of good health without a happy life to enjoy?
The facts can help remind us of what we should be paying attention to, as individuals and as families, if we want to be happy. There's also an important message here for public policy and politics. We must hold our leaders accountable for the facts on happiness and refuse to take it lightly when politicians abridge the values of faith, work, family, charity, and freedom. Candidates running for office should be grilled about happiness in debates and by the press, and their answers should determine our votes. Our happiness is simply too important to us and to America to do anything less. "How happy are you"
Compiled by: YJ Draiman