Believing in free will means the ability to be able to make choices in complete autonomy. Without allowing the outcome of these choices to be influenced by past events. Believing in free will also involve believing that people can act freely to pursue their goals and improve the quality of their life.
Research shows that believing in free will is connected with feeling happier. This would happen in western populations, but also in eastern populations, suggesting that the phenomenon can be considered universally valid and not linked to cultural differences.
Believing in free will makes you happier
Happiness is considered a general feeling of well-being perceived on a subjective level. According to some authors of a recent article, believing in the free will could lead to an increase in this feeling of well-being through two different mechanisms.
In fact, having this belief could lead to a greater level of perceived autonomy. And wanting to exercise more self-control, taking your life in hand and committing yourself to do your best.
Many other studies have shown how useful it is in everyday life to believe in the existence of free will, rather than indeterminism. It has been shown that on an empirical level people seem to have a tendency to behave better when they believe they have free will – that is when they believe they can behave freely.
Conversely, distrust of free will produces a kind of implicit signal inherent in the futility of making the effort to behave correctly. As everything would have already been established a priori on the basis of past experiences. Belief in determinism would reduce the feeling of individual responsibility.
Similarly, believing in the actual existence of free will can be crucial in motivating people to control their impulses to act selfishly and aggressively. As this would require a considerable effort of will and self-control.
If a person firmly believes that he can act freely and without restrictions to get what he wants. It will also be easier for it to deliberately strive and control itself in order to achieve this in the best possible way. Behavior that will inevitably lead to success, thus also raising the personally perceived level of well-being.
Although the studies carried out in an attempt to investigate the link between free will and happiness are still limited, they show precisely the existence of a positive correlation between these two constructs. Thus suggesting how believing in free will can be fundamental also on an emotional and personal level, as well as behavioral.