Science confirmed what we've suspected all along: Caring about others actively increases our own personal happiness.
Jacob Soboroff a TakePart Live (and former HuffPost Live) anchor explores the question 'What makes us happy?' in the video above. He asked men who had just been released from a correctional facility what they looked forward to most during their incarceration. Often, it was being with the people closest to them.
"Connection to other people," Soboroff says in the video, is what makes us happiest.
For further proof, he looked into the chemical reactions in our bodies that result in feelings of happiness. He consulted TED speaker and economist Paul Zak, who has studied the link between happiness and empathy.
Zak found elevated levels of oxytocin -- the trust or "moral molecule" that has been associated with pain relief and love -- in Soboroff's blood after he watched a video about a father who refused to leave the side of his son who was dying of cancer.
Even simply thinking of our loved ones can make us happier. In a previous experiment Zak conducted, 100 percent of the people he tested experienced a spike in oxytocin while using social media. Tweeting at friends or looking at updates from loved ones on Facebook seems to evoke a similar response to that of personal interaction -- we feel happier. "It seems like our brains haven't evolved to differentiate pictures of friends flickering on Facebook and having those friends right in front of us."
In the end, Zak says, our greatest joy comes from connecting with those around us: "If I'm a totally selfish person and I want to maximize my own happiness, I've got to reach out. I've got to go volunteer, I've got to help other people. I've got to engage with others."
Watch the full video above.