The top three factors of happiness in no particular order were:
Financial security – Interestingly enough, an annual salary of $100,000 was where the contentment was capped, showing that we need enough money to be comfortable but too much money is not necessarily a good thing.
Sense of purpose – A raison d’être is vital to feeling happy. This can come in many different ways, but you must find something that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning.
Healthy Personal Relationships– An intimate relationship with another person whether it’s a spouse, a life-partner or a close friend is essential to personal happiness.
Other surprising facts from the Study:
Social media – it makes no difference in your happiness level if you spend either no time or greater than one hour on social media. The happiest group spent an average of 30 minutes per day on social media.
Why is this?
I love social media for the community it provides me. Having lived in 4 different cities in my adult life, there are a lot of people I genuinely care about, but would never be able to personally stay in touch with. And I know they feel the same about me. However, too much social media is dangerous because we can start comparing ourselves with the seemingly perfect lives of our friends, forgetting that pictures and words can lie. In addition, too much time on social media can indicate boredom and complacency in our lives. When we have nothing better to do than scroll on various social media sites, are aren’t investing in the top happiness factors, namely a sense of purpose and healthy personal relationships.
Children – men with children reported greater happiness than men without children, but woman’s happiness was the same regardless of children
Why is this?
At first, this fact greatly intrigued me because I would’ve thought it would’ve been the women who were unhappy without children. Many women have a strong maternal instinct (or “screaming ovary syndrome” as my brother-in-law likes to call it), while men seem to feel less desperate for children. One idea could be that women tend to have stronger social circles than men, especially when it comes to children. Typically, a woman is more likely to babysit and play with her niblings (yes it’s a real word for “nieces and nephews) or a friend’s children than a man is.
Health – those with ill-health didn’t report less happiness than those in good health, provided it was a slow decline of health rather than a sudden onset of symptoms.
Why is this?
While I was initially surprised by this finding, once I thought about it more, it made sense to me. Humans have a strong sense of survival built within us–it’s how most of us get through the difficult times in our lives. Our choice is to let it ruin us, or to overcome it and deep down we know that it’s only us personally who lose if we let negative things in life ruin us. Health is no exception and sometimes those with ill-health tend to have more gratitude because they learn how to focus on the good, rather than dwell on the negative.
Age – The group of people that were the most satisfied? Over the age of 55.
Why is this?
Although we are always told that our high school and college years are the best of our lives, it makes full sense that people feel the most content over the age of 55. When we are young, life is exciting, but scary. Usually by the age of 55, many of life’s uncertainties are gone. Many people are able to find life partners and lasting relationships, many people have found their sense of purpose and many people have more financial security than they did when they were thirty years younger, even if life takes a slower pace.
Personal Happiness is just that, personal. Although some may disagree with the findings of this study, the most important take away is for us to consider what makes us personally happy. And to prioritize these factors continuously over our lifetime.