Ever since Aristotle and Confucius, humans have known about the importance of wellbeing.

In modern times the 1776 US Declaration of Independence declared that all men have a right to “the pursuit of happiness.”

In recent years science has developed a detailed understanding of happiness and wellbeing, and the benefits that result from them.

The researchers come from a wide range of fields including psychology, occupational health, neuroscience, sociology and economics. You can read about the workplace, personal and health benefits they have discovered below.

MAP is a unique program that is informed by the scientific research. Read more about How it Works and Happiness and Wellbeing.

Benefits in the workplace are more likely with high levels of wellbeing in an individual's personal life

Workplace Benefits

Scientists have found that happiness and wellbeing can achieve workplace benefits through:

Internal processes within the individual; such as improved motivation and integration of information.

External processes between individuals; such as better relationships and cooperation.

Key research findings include:

Workers who experience high wellbeing are 81% less likely to seek out a new employer in the next year.

Employees with the highest wellbeing levels miss 41% less work due to poor health and are 65% less likely to be involved in a workplace accident.

Well-being can actually be a more important contributor to on-the-job productivity than an employee's chronic disease status such as diabetes.

Leaders who are actively seen to exhibit wellbeing behaviors are more likely to have team members with high wellbeing levels.

Happiness can increase curiosity, creativity and motivation amongst workers.

Happy people are more likely to engage cooperatively and collaboratively during negotiations.

Happy workers are more likely to be rated highly for financial performance and generally by their supervisors.

Connected Collaboration

Greater satisfaction amongst employees is associated with better revenue, sales and profits.

Wellbeing is associated with increased clarity about roles and responsibilities and how to accomplish tasks ahead of deadlines.

Happiness at a point in time in a person's working life is associated with higher income later in life.

MAP understands that the benefits of wellbeing in the workplace are more likely with high levels of wellbeing in an individual's personal life.

This happens because your personal life and your life at work interact and influence each other in a two-way flow - where personal wellbeing is the foundation and workplace wellbeing is constructed on top of this foundation.

Read more about How MAP Works

“Well-being programs should be considered as an investment rather than a cost.”

American Journal of Public Health, 2015

Personal Benefits

Research shows that happiness can improve your ability to integrate information. It can also broaden your attention and focus. This can lead to improved behavior and decision-making, which lead to personal benefits.

Here are standout findings:

You're more likely to be willing not to accept an immediate, smaller benefit, in order to obtain a larger benefit in the future if you have higher subjective wellbeing.

People with the highest wellbeing levels are more than twice as likely to say they always adapt well to change.

High wellbeing levels are associated with being 23% more likely to donate money

You're 43% more likely to have volunteered when you have higher wellbeing levels.

jumping man

Happier individuals tend to:

  • spend less and save more
  • take more time when making decisions
  • have higher life expectations

Wellbeing increases interest in social activities.

Unemployed people who are happier are more likely to get a job within a year.

Higher life satisfaction is associated with lower risk-taking behavior like not wearing seatbelts and being involved in automobile accidents.

Greater subjective wellbeing makes you more likely to donate blood, time and money.

MAP understands that wellbeing in your personal life isn't just the icing on the cake. Personal wellbeing is the foundation on top of which other benefits - such as workplace benefits and health benefits - are built on.

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“The happiest people pursue the most difficult problems.”

Harvard Business Review, 2013

Health and Living

The mind and body are connected.

Scientists have found that happiness and wellbeing have a strong association with the physical systems underlying health, disease and longevity (living longer). They also help improve lifestyle behaviors.

Key benefits from the research include:

People are 36% more likely to fully bounce back after an illness when they have high wellbeing levels.

Positive feelings help reduce inflammatory, neuro-endocrine (hormone) problems and cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) function.

Better wellbeing is associated with improved mental and psychological health.

High subjective wellbeing helps you to stop smoking, eat a healthy diet, do exercise, lose weight.

Positive emotions can speed up recovery from injury and disease.

Stethoscope and brain

Positive mood is associated with lower rates of viral infections, stroke and heart disease.

Happier individuals are more likely to live longer.

For example, a 2015 worldwide study of older-aged people who had higher subjective wellbeing found a 300% increased chance of being alive 8.5 years later.

High happiness levels are as important as not smoking for how long you live.

For insights on the current scientific research on mechanisms that connect the mind and body, read below about the Whitehall Study and the Brain.

For insights on the mechanisms that MAP uses to improve happiness and wellbeing, read about How it Works.

Reduced autonomy and control at work directly causes health problems

Social Status and Autonomy

Many studies have found a connection between better wellbeing and positive outcomes.

A 2012 study of more than 11,000 men and women aged 50-plus, for example, found that those who were in the top 25% of experiencing self-reported enjoyment in life, were 28.7% less likely to die. In other words, more enjoyment in life is associated with living longer.

But then the question is raised about causation: ‘Do people aged 50-plus who live longer simply report more enjoyment in life because they haven’t died yet?’

Scientists are also now starting to find mechanisms that explain how wellbeing directly causes positive outcomes.

Whitehall Study

The Whitehall Study is a remarkable example of research that has found both connections between better wellbeing and positive outcomes, and also direct causes.

It is the largest longitudinal study of people in the workplace in the world, investigating more than 10,000 UK civil servants aged 35-55 years old since 1985. Analysis of the civil servants is ongoing and published as a series of studies.

people in social hierarchy

A key discovery was that social status is a major cause of ill-health such as heart disease. However, the issue was not one of income or lifestyle, but the psychological experience of inequality - how much control you have and the opportunities you have for social participation - that profoundly affects health. The conclusion of the scientists was that there is an intrinsic need for autonomy and social engagement.

Further discoveries by the Whitehall Study have explained mechanisms for how reduced autonomy and control at work directly causes health problems.

One mechanism describes how more stress amongst civil servants reduced their heart rate variability and, as a result, increased the risk of heart disease. Another mechanism was where stress led to an increased output of the hormones cortisol and catecholamines, which increased the risk of diabetes.

MAP is a unique program that takes into account hierarchy at work, with its use of designating individual employees in distinct groups called Quadrants. Read more about How MAP Works.

A Positive mood increases activity of the brain centre associated with curiosity and creativity

The Brain

Research on the brain - called neuroscience - provides further biological explanations and mechanisms on how better wellbeing can lead to positive outcomes.

Studies have been looking at the functions of the brain and changes to its structure.

Function

Studies have found, for example, that neurotransmitters (natural brain chemicals) such as dopamine are increased when you have better wellbeing. One mechanism explaining how this happens is that dopamine embeds a positive feedback loop, so when you respond to something positive in your life, this makes you better able to seek and receive something else positive at a later time.

Research has also looked at well known centers in the brain using imaging technology. A 2009 study found that positive mood led to increased activity of the brain centre associated with increased curiosity and creativity.

brain positive feedback loop

Structure

Neuroscientists looking at, for instance, mindfulness training (a type of meditation linked to improved wellbeing in psychological studies) have shown increased nerve tissue in parts of the brain that are believed to regulate your thought processes and emotion.

For insights on current scientific research on mechanisms, read about the Whitehall Study. For insights on the mechanisms that MAP uses to improve happiness and wellbeing, read about How it Works.