The search for happiness is no easy one. It’s a particularly hard task because many of us don’t exactly know what makes us happy in the first place.
It seems like we’re not the only ones trying to figure this one out: studies have been done to answer that very question. The results? Rather than some of the expected triggers of happiness (i.e. friends, money, food), it has been scientifically proven that one of the greatest contributors to happiness is how much gratitude you show. This is not to say that the aforementioned things do not bring happiness. Let’s not kid ourselves — food has made us all happy at one point. This study simply concludes that one’s happiness can be drastically shifted depending on the amount of gratitude shown. In other words, they may have found a way in which we can find happiness despite rough days.
Soul Pancake decided to take this theory for a test-drive. They measured the happiness level of people before and after showing gratitude. Check it out for yourself:
If such a small act impacts the emotional health of individuals, then it is especially important that the Asian American community start incorporating this into our daily lives.
In our Fall 2013 issue, we delved deep into the topic of depression and mental health among Asian American women:
Asians are arguably the most wired people in the world, and we also bear the ignoble distinction of having the highest rates of depression. According to a 2011 report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Asian American teenage girls have the highest rate of depressive symptoms of any racial, ethnic or gender group. In fact, Asian American girls and women aged 15 to 24 die from suicide at a higher rate than any other racial or ethnic group, and suicide is the fifth leading cause of death among Asian Americans overall (only ninth for white Americans). It’s not just young women either; Asian American women over 65 have the highest suicide rate in that demographic. And while some studies find depressive symptoms in 35 percent of Chinese immigrants, among Southeast Asians, 71 percent meet the criteria for major affective disorders such as depression.
What causes such a high incidence of depression within our community? Is it the pressure we often face from family and society? Is it, as mentioned above, a matter of comparing ourselves to others and setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves?
Apparently, it may have a thing or two to do with race itself. Medical Daily recently released a story that studied the long term effects of racism. According to the study, there is a strong relationship between racial discrimination and depression. More importantly, Blacks, Hispanics and Asians were at the highest risk.
By enduring racism earlier on, various health issues such as “low self-esteem, reduced resilience, increased behavior problems and lower levels of wellbeing” can result.
“Children are still developing their sense of worth and belonging,” Medical Daily explains. “They internalize hateful comments more often as truths.”
Clearly, we are fighting various battles at once. With so many factors working against us, it is especially important that Asian American women look after their emotional and mental wellbeing. So why not try these methods: even the small steps — limiting time on social media and taking the time to show gratitude — may make a difference. After all, what’s there to lose?