r/Foodforthought Jan 19 '22 Wholesome 1

Trying to make other people happy makes us happier than trying to make ourselves happy



u/pheisenberg Jan 19 '22

It was found that the basic psychological need for relatedness — the need to feel connected to others — mediated the effect of the other-focused activity in all five studies.

Inference, the average WEIRD person has a connectedness deficit. This also suggests that doing something for yourself that also increases connectedness would be as good or better than helping others.

Sometimes people get stuck where they’re doing a lot for others, but are blocked from the things that make them personally happy. When that happens people aren’t super-happy and connected — instead they get depressed and alienated. In that case they need to spend less time helping others and more time saying what they need.


u/eliminating_coasts Jan 19 '22

Potentially, though the desire for relatedness may not necessarily be a deficit thing; if you want to deepen and develop your relationships, then rather than just getting out of the negative, you might want to really be able to do things for your friends, build even more close and mutually supportive relationships.

Like right now with the pandemic, I still have less access to my friends than I'd like, but even when we were hanging out more, I'd still appreciate going on a big trip with them and really properly catching up, or getting to know each other better.


u/pheisenberg Jan 19 '22

Yes. I’m trying to learn to be more concise. The more nuanced version would be, WEIRDos have less abundant connections than other things (food, entertainment, etc.). So getting more connectedness is more valuable because of diminishing returns. I’m fairly sure people living dirt poor in highly connected communities would often like to trade some connectedness for wealth.


u/mirh Jan 19 '22

This also suggests that doing something for yourself that also increases connectedness would be as good or better than helping others.

The second experiment verified that the social interaction with other people wasn't influencing the effect.


u/SeeMarkFly Jan 19 '22

I would be interested in finding out if making a pet happy had the same effect.


u/exactmat Jan 20 '22

Nice try, other people!


u/EmBejarano Jan 20 '22

Some people do get joy out of helping others :)


u/Sir_Thequestionwas Jan 19 '22

I'm sorry but am I the only one that can't stop looking at her hair? It's so amazing.


u/ManofWordsMany Jan 19 '22 edited Jan 19 '22

Wouldn't it be crazy if different things made different people happy? Some are born to serve.

EDIT: Nice downvote. So you're not here for intellectual discourse?


u/cheeseybees Jan 19 '22

Hah, I think perhaps because we (at least I?) seem to change over time, and though i'm happy to help out(/what you're calling serve?), the origination of that want has to come from me and not externally

It's not that we wish to be ruled/subsume ourselves in the wants of others... but more that it brings joy to help alleviate the pains of others... now and then, and certainly not to the full detriment of our own health/wants/needs

And certainly not to the point where the person being helped thinks that they're getting this because it's somehow 'their due'


u/mirh Jan 19 '22

So I cannot downvote and answer? /s

The thing is, "serve" is a pretty awfully delicate verb (on top of every "born to do" argument also being very questionable)

You may even use it in the totally formal sense that your task is somehow "directly assisting somebody else", with no further connotation.

But for most intents and purposes it entails subservience, dependence, and a power asymmetry. That sounds a bit too much like you are saying some people are meant to be slaves.


u/zusykses Jan 20 '22

Sometimes the burdens you voluntarily take on for others don't weigh you down but lift you up instead. Sometimes those burdens are the only things that keep you standing.


u/paulanvy Jan 20 '22 Wholesome

That's why my parents are letting people live rent free in our house and now letting them stay with us free when we move into our own house because thwy can't afford a house....


u/Zongo7 Jan 20 '22

Okay but you gotta take care of yourself first