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Three scientific facts about happiness that will surprise you – Advent Calendar Day 14

Most of you have probably heard the phrase “money can’t buy happiness”. We’ve found some facts that show some surprising ways you can bring happiness into your life (and money isn’t one of them).

The term “man’s best friend” might actually be true

Studies have shown that animals could have the power to increase happiness. In fact, research has been conducted with animals ranging from household pets like dogs to less expected animal friends – like crickets. One study by Shoshana Shiloh, Gal Sorek & Joseph Terkel used rabbits to measure pets’ impact on stress and anxiety.

Researchers exposed participants to stressful situations. Then, randomly selected members were asked to either pet a rabbit, a turtle, a toy rabbit, or a toy turtle or pet nothing at all.

This had startling results. The study found that the groups that were exposed to the rabbit or turtle had lower levels of stress and anxiety than the groups that petted the toys or had nothing to pet.

Even more surprising, this effect wasn’t just limited to the people who were already pet-lovers. People with a range of attitudes towards animals benefitted from the simple act of petting a friend from the animal kingdom.

Happiness increases with the number of candles on our cake

Panorama of happy and active senior people toasting in the garden

We are often hit with a barrage of anti-ageing messaging, but one study suggests that we should embrace the ageing process.

In the aptly named study “Up, not down: The age curve in happiness from early adulthood to midlife”. Researchers tracked participants’ happiness from ages 18 to 43 and 23 to 37.

What did they find? The older people got, the happier they were!

Social media can increase happiness

You may have heard how excessive social media use can be bad for your health and happiness, but research shows some benefits.

One study found that social media can bring happiness and life satisfaction in two distinct ways. Such as when it is used to create connections between people from different backgrounds and as a vehicle to bond with like-minded people. The connection and relationship-building power of social media was found to boost happiness.

Of course, more research has to be done in these fields to get a proper understanding of happiness and mental health.

To delve deeper into mental health awareness, take a look at our mental health awareness qualification suite.