Does Happiness Really Come from Within?By Samantha Boardman, M.D.
“Happiness comes from within.”
We hear this all the time and it has kept psychiatrists like me in business for years. While I agree with the overall message, it has become increasingly apparent to me that happiness comes from “with” as much as it comes from “within.”
Too much self-help leads to too much self-interest. As David Brooks wrote in the New York Times, “We live in the culture of the Big Me.” As research shows, an emphasis on the “Big Me” actually undermines feeling fulfilled.
Happiness is not a solo enterprise and wellbeing doesn’t occur in a vacuum. We are social creatures and our wellbeing—both physical and mental—depends on our connections. According to the World Happiness Report 2013, generosity and social support are, in fact, two of the strongest predictors of wellbeing.
Research shows that the happiest people have close ties to friends and family. Social interaction beyond one’s immediate circle is important too.