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Activism and happiness
Have you ever taken part in a political rally or demonstration? Have you championed a cause or railed loudly in arguments? Whether or not you consider yourself an 'activist' (and very few do), sticking up for what you believe, even in the face of strong opposition can, it seems, be good for you.
Psychologists Malte Klar and Tim Kasser surveyed hundreds of students, assessing both their happiness and whether they engaged in activism in any way. What they found was that activism is positively related to happiness. Why is this?
Consider the difference between an activist and an average person. Activists are more passionate and have clear meaning in their lives. They often have a strong social network of friends who care likewise. And they have little time for boredom. It seems quite likely they might be more happy.
Something the research also points out was that 'committed' activists were not any happier. This also makes sense as the more serious activists often seem frustrated or angry that their protests seem to fall on deaf ears. It is also generally true that if doing something makes you happy, then doing more does not necessarily make you happier. It's a non-linear relationship and it can help to understand the optimal happiness position.
A better place is to be passionate about the subject and so be passionate about the people with who you share the passion. With all that good feeling flying around, how can you not be happy?
Klar, M., & Kasser, T. (2009). Some Benefits of Being an Activist: Measuring Activism and Its Role in Psychological Well-Being. Political Psychology, 30 (5), 755-777
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