Sharing positive experiences boosts happiness

Levels of personal happiness increase after people directly share good news about their lives with others, a new report concludes

US psychologists behind the study, A boost of positive affect: The perks of sharing positive experiences, carried out five studies recording the mood of participants after they had shared a positive experience with a friend or partner. These were compared with participants who wrote about a positive experience or who shared neutral information with a friend.

The results showed that directly sharing positive information resulted in consistently higher happiness levels – higher than those stemming from simply talking to a friend or recalling a positive experience.

The study also demonstrated that such happiness benefits can be lasting. Over a four-week period, those who had shared positive experiences with another person at least twice a week were more satisfied with life than those who simply wrote about positive experiences twice a week.

According to the research, one of the most important factors in gaining happiness from sharing good news is the reaction of the person it is shared with. If the receiver responds positively, the person sharing is much more likely to feel happier than if they respond neutrally.

However, the study is unable to conclusively explain the results. The researchers have made a number of suggestions, including the idea that talking about a positive experience makes it feel ‘more real’ or that we gain extra satisfaction in making another person happy through our good news.

Co-author of the report, Frank Fincham, said: “If you seek happiness, it can become very elusive, whereas if you naturally share the good things in your life, happiness will follow. The problem is that we tend to share what’s going on badly in our lives, not capitalising on sharing the positive.”