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The Key To Happiness

The Key To Happiness

Acts of Service 

By Brooklin Painter

Everyone searches for the key to happiness, but not every person gets to their ideal destination. Do we know where happiness derives from? That is the million-dollar question, and The Collegian is here to show you how one might gain that happiness. 

The emotion of happiness is a subjective well-being. It varies from person to person. In line with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, happiness is an emotion that is difficult to measure. It is more of a physical well-being. There are multiple measurements and assessments that have to be made to decide a person’s overall state. [1] Meaning that happiness is not found in one place. 

In all the ways that one might find happiness, it always revolves back to how one associates with their society. It is about how a person forms connections with others and themselves. Contributing to society is one of the many ways that you can gain happy well-being. 

Putting a smile on someone’s face improves their well-being and yourself. Photo taken by RODNAE Productions on 1/30/2021. Source:

Generosity in service, one of Walla Walla University’s core values, is a source of happiness that benefits both the receiver and giver. According to the American Psychological Association and Action For Happiness, helping others “increases life satisfaction, provides a sense of meaning, increases feelings of competence, improves our mood, reduces stress, and takes our minds off our own troubles.” [2] 

Connecting to those around us and assisting them with their needs serves a purpose for us. Marianna Pogosyan, a cross-cultural consultant with a PhD in cultural psychology, writes about recent research that suggests our well-being benefits from prosocial behavior. Helping others regulate their emotions helps us to regulate our own emotional well-being. [3] 

A study in social science and medicine suggests that a person who volunteers reports they have better health and happiness than someone who does not. Someone who volunteers monthly is 12% more likely to report that they are happy. Someone who volunteers weekly is 16% more likely to report being happy. [4] Volunteering is a great source of happiness and is proven to assist in one’s state of mind. 

Raychelle Cassada Lohmann, a clinical mental health counselor with a PhD in counselor education and supervision, indicated that there seems to be a direct correlation with a person’s overall well-being and giving our time, money, and resources to a cause that one is passionate about. [5] 

To further investigate how generosity in service improves happiness, we spoke with Justin Corral Yanez, a junior biology pre-medicine major. We assessed Yanez on his personal experience with happiness through serving others. 

When Yanez was asked what happiness was to him, he replied that happiness is not real unless it is shared with those around us. “God fills us with joy to share with others. When we are in a community with other people, I think sharing experiences with them is the basis of happiness. Either by helping them or spending time with them.” [6] 

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Illustration of hands holding a beaming plant. Art by Hannah Gillespie. Uploaded on 1/29/2022.

Yanez loves to cooperate with other people, whether it is helping someone study or volunteering. When lending a hand at a food bank, Yanez noticed that everyone there never felt stressed or upset. They were getting aid and free food, which made them thankful. He communicates that assisting others made him happy because of the smile he put on others faces. [7] 

Lohmann wrote about her daughter’s experience with helping others. She talked about how her daughter insisted on giving money to a man standing on the corner of a street. She saw compassion and commitment to help in her daughter’s eyes that day. It made her daughter happy to help the man and to know that she made a difference in someone’s life.  

Generosity in service is not all about volunteering or donating to charity. Acts of service can be about showing kindness, listening and communicating, spending time with others, and doing small good deeds. 

To be happy, you have to share that happiness with others. It is about helping each other in our own community. Lifting each other up and showing kindness to all. Next time you see someone, give a compliment; share your love with those around you and they might do the same. One little act of service can make someone’s day.  


  1. Durand, M. (2013). OECD Guidelines on measuring subjective well-being. OCED iLibrary.   
  1. Do things for others. (2009). Action for Happiness. 
  1. Pogosyan, M. (2018, May 30). In helping others, you help yourself. Psychology Today.  
  1. Lohmann, R. (2017, January 29). Achieving happiness by helping others. Psychology Today.  
  1. Ibid
  1. Interview with Justin Corral Yenez, 1/28/2022. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Lohmann, R. (2017, January 29). Achieving happiness by helping others. Psychology Today.
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