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Finding a ‘good cause’ could make you happy
by Matthew - Monday, 26 July 2010, 11:19 PM
Protesting for peacePolitically active people are more likely to be happy and optimistic, according to new research.

The study was conducted by Psychologists Malte Klar (University of Göttingen, Germany), and Tim Kasser (of Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois).  They started their study by interviewing two sets of college students about their degree of political involvement and levels of happiness. The result was a clear correlation between optimism and the inclination to get involved in political demonstrations.

The researchers then brought the students together in their two groups. One group was set the task of writing to the management of the college cafeteria complaining about the food, and the other was asked to request more locally sourced and Fairtrade products. Tested on their wellbeing after the exercise, the students involved in the political debate felt much higher levels of vitality - regardless of their general levels of happiness prior to the experiment.

These results suggest that activism gives people a sense of purpose. It is also possible that the chance to spend time and connect with others provides meaning.

Kasser argues that general well-being depends on a combination of experiencing pleasant emotions, as well as something called eudaimonia, which is a sense of meaning and purpose. Kasser believes that happiness is related to having meaning and purpose in our lives .... "It's the sense that my life is a good life, not because I have a lot of pleasure, but because life is meaningful, because it feels like I'm striving for a higher purpose."

"If you know of a cause that feels truly important to you, get informed, get organised and get active," Klar advises. "Activism might not only change your well-being for the better, but also the world."

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