If acquiring the most toys is what makes you happy, your happiness could be making you sick. A recent study out of UCLA surveyed 80 volunteers to find out what brought satisfaction to their lives. They then evaluated the volunteers’ blood levels of biological markers known to promote inflammation, which has been correlated with cancer, asthma, diabetes, arthritis, and cardiovascular disease.
The results were surprising. Volunteers whose responses indicated that they got the most satisfaction from buying or having things (hedonic happiness) also showed higher levels of the inflammatory markers. Those who said they got the most satisfaction from serving a higher purpose or taking care of others (eudaemonic happiness) had lower levels of the inflammatory markers in their blood and higher levels of substances that stimulate protective antibodies.
Everyone has a combination of both hedonic and eudaemonic tendencies. Now there’s scientific evidence that working toward the greater good will contribute to our personal long-term well being.