People are still looking for the key to happiness, and a new Danish study says it might be simpler than we had thought: just logging off Facebook for a week. Conducted at The Happiness Institute, the study set out to find how influential social media is in regard to users’ general happiness.
- The Happiness Institute found Facebook users are less happy with their lives
- 94 percent of the 1,095 participants logged in on Facebook daily
- After a one-week break from the social network, happiness levels increased
- Posts with the hashtags #happy , #amazing, or #success made participants react negatively
Roughly 1,000 Facebook users were asked to use a 1 to 10 scale to self-evaluate their general life satisfaction based on different factors, like how much they enjoyed life, their overall state of happiness, whether they felt sad or worried, and if they were decisive or enthusiastic.
Somewhere around 94 percent of the participants said they were logging in on Facebook at least once a day. After the initial evaluation, researchers asked half the group to stay away from the social network for a week, while the other half was allowed to continue with their lives as they normally would.
A week passed and the volunteers’ life satisfaction was measured for the second time. These results indicated that while those who didn’t take a break from Facebook did experience a slight increase in their overall happiness – a small rise from 7.67 to 7.75 in average happiness – they were also 55 percent more prone to stress.
On the other hand, the group that avoided social media for a week had their happiness levels surging from 7.56 to 8.12. They also experienced a significant increase in social activity and contentedness with their social lives. Questioned about their moods on the last day of the experiment, these participants reported feeling less sad and a lot happier than the group that had kept logging in on Facebook.
Overall, the non-Facebook group had 18 percent more chances to live the moment and feel present. According to CEO of the Happiness Research Institute, Meik Wiking, it’s not necessarily Facebook’s fault, but rather the way it influences our perception of life. It doesn’t only distort the way we perceive reality, but also how other people’s lives really look like.
Comparison is the ultimate killer of happiness, and since most people tend to post only positive things on Facebook, it gives us a very biased – and false – perception of reality. At the same time, it’s rather easy to lose focus on what we need and start looking at all the things other people have and enjoy.
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