There is a strong connection between trust and happiness in the people I work with. People who trust others tend to have a more positive and optimistic attitude, and are generally happier. On the other hand, people who have low levels of trust are more pessimistic and closed off, and tend to be less happy.
What determines the level of trust we have in others? And how can we build more trust? These are important questions to consider.
There seem to be two main factors that influence our trust levels. One is our genetic makeup, or what Vedanta calls vasanas. This determines our inherent tendency to trust, and can affect how we respond to different situations in life. For example, someone who is naturally optimistic may trust others even in difficult circumstances, while someone who is more pessimistic may struggle to trust others even when things are going well.
The second factor is our experiences, which shape our learned behavior. If we have grown up surrounded by people we can trust, and have experienced trust from our parents and friends, especially in our formative years, we are more likely to trust others as we mature. On the other hand, if we have experienced betrayal of trust from those close to us, we may develop a more guarded, untrusting attitude as we get older.
Our ability to trust is a combination of our innate tendencies and our learned behavior. While there may be some aspects of our tendency to trust that we can’t change (such as our genetics), our learned behavior is something that we can work on. To build more trust in others and in life, we can start by sharing our expectations of others, giving feedback in a transparent and regular manner, and working towards a common purpose that unites us. By doing these things, we can build “smart trust” and lead happier, more open lives.