|An Experiment in Gratitude (The Science of Happiness)
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What makes you happy? Have you ever wondered why? Join us as we take an experimental approach on what makes people happier.
Participant 1: Shut up [laughs]
Participant 2: What? Wait, wait.
Participant 3: Oh he's gonna be so embarrassed.
Julian Huguet: What makes you happy? Having fun? Hanging out with friends? Delicious food? Making money? Well consider this. Psychologists have scientifically proven that one of the greatest contributing factors to overall happiness in your life is how much gratitude you show. Yup. Think about that. Go ahead and marinate on that for a second. You can thank me later if you want. It will make you feel better according to this study. You go ahead and click on it and read it if you want. Or, you can keep watching because we read it, we thought it might be fun to test out for ourselves.
We gathered a selection of volunteers to act as our subjects. First we gave them a test. They didn't know what we were looking for. But they gave us a pretty good idea of their current level of happiness. We asked them to close their eyes and think of somebody who was really influential in their life. Somebody who did something really amazing or important for them. We had them write down as much as they could about why this person was so important. Now a lot of them thought at this point the experiment was over until we really put them on the spot and tried to get them to call that person and read what they wrote about them.
Thank you Jessica. We are going to have to have you call your mother.
So who was that right person for you?
Participant 1: The person is my sister Erica. JH: We're gonna give Erica a call.
Participant 1: [laughs] Okay. JH: Who'd you end up picking?
Participant 3: Friend of mine, Greg Haines.
Participant 4: Her name is Dora.
Participant 5: My college accounting instructor.
JH: Really! Is this someone you're still in touch with today?
P 5: No I'm assuming that he is passed on.
JH: That's a shame. P5: To the great beyond.
JH: You up for it? P3: Um, uh yes.
JH: What would you say if we called up Dora? P4: We can try but she lives in Britain.
JH: In Britain? P2: I don't know her number by heart, this is awful.
JH: That's fine, I don't know my mom's phone number by heart.
P5: If it's true that those who are gone on are looking down on us, maybe he'll recognize he is great.
[on phone]: Hi sweetheart!
P2: Hey how you doing. Um you gotta second? Where you at, the hotel?
[phone]: I am, I'm in the hotel. You scared me when you asked if I had a second, I thought something was wrong.
P2: No I'm on this little TV show and they told me to talk about the person that influenced me the most, and I picked you and they're making me call, they're making me call you.
[phone]: Oh wonderful!
[phone dialing] [voicemail] [phone dialing]
P1: Oh come on. [phone]: Hello?
P1: Hi! Erica, it's me.
P2: Alright so I gotta read you this paragraph, can you hear me?
[phone]: Yes I can. Go ahead sweetheart.
P2: Alright. The person that influenced me the most would be my mother, Marlow Dawson. She is a single mother of two, she is a very hard-worker and dedicated to her family.
P3: Hey Craig, this is Lowy. Um, this is gonna be a funny little voicemail so I hope you
P4: I'm so sorry for calling you at 4 o'clock in the morning!
P1: I have to read this to you okay? You can't say anything or I don't know. You can respond but, I probably will just keep going [laughs] okay?
[phone]: Is everything okay?
P1: Yes! But I have to read this out loud to you.
P5: The person who has had the biggest impact on my life, outside of Jesus Christ who is responsible for my existence, was my college accounting instructor. He had a joy and enthusiasm for his job like no other teacher I have ever known.
P2: I love her to death, and she keeps me going with positive talk, she is a woman that
knows what she wants and won't give up until it is achieved.
[phone]: Oh pumpkin, I don't know what to, I'm about to cry because that's so beautiful.
I have to say that's just wonderful.
P3: I first met Craig on an independent feature film set in Whitefish, Montana. I recently have been sending Craig a lot of positive thoughts as he suffered a series of health problems. Despite his medical problems, he's continued to work and take pleasure in the small things in life like sitting quietly with his wife Jeanine on the porch.
P1: Erica is my older sister and my best friend. Sometimes it even feels like we are twins! She is my number one fan and my number one supporter. She makes me happy because despite all my mistakes and my decisions, she still loves me no matter what. P4: Your friendship is everything. And you are one of the most important person in my life.
P1: Even when she has a kid and many children I will love her more than her kids! Okay, maybe not. I will never forget when she flew 3000 miles at the drop of a phone call to save me from a break-up.
[phone]: I'm being blessed by having a son like you. I love you.
[phone]: Why did you do this to me?
P1: [laughs] I don't know because they made me do it!
P4: Thank you for picking up, bye sweetie!
P1: And then they're like here you're gonna write this letter and then I wrote like this whole long-ass letter which you know I don't write. And then all of a sudden they're like "hey guess what you're gonna call her and you're gonna read her this letter and it was like what the [expletive] [laughs].
JH: Before we let them go we gave our subjects one more happiness test. Now we mixed up and rephrased the questions so they didn't know they were taking the same test twice. For those who took the time to actually write something down but couldn't make the phone call for whatever reason we saw happiness increase between 2 and 4 percent. Good, but not exactly mind-blowing.
Now for those who actually picked up the phone and personally expressed their gratitude, we saw increases between 4 and 19 percent. So either way! Expressing your gratitude will making you a happier person. But you want to know something really interesting? The person who experienced the biggest jump in happiness was the least happy person who walked in the door. What does that mean? That means if you're having a particularly tough time, trying this out will more likely have a greater impact on you. Trust me! I'm in a lab coat. In fact, while you're at it, film it and upload it to us and we'll do something awesome with it. I'm Julian and this has been “The Science of Happiness.” SoulPancake Subscribe!