What can we learn from the world’s largest study on happiness?

What can we learn from the world’s largest study on happiness?

by Amy Corderoy

WHEN it comes to happiness it turns out we are not just comparing ourselves with the Joneses, but the Wongs and the Kumars as well, according to the biggest ever international survey of what makes us happy.

The study, which surveyed 136,000 people in more than 130 countries that account for about 96 per cent of the world’s population – found rich people in rich countries were much more likely to say they were satisfied with their life than rich people in poorer nations.

“It may be that the standard for material wellbeing is now largely worldwide rather than defined within nations,” said the study’s leader, Ed Diener, of the University of Illinois.

The study also found that while people who are relatively well-off tended to feel more satisfied than poorer people with the way their life was going, on a day to day basis they were not more likely to experience feelings of happiness or wellbeing.

Social and psychological factors accounted for people’s feelings of happiness. These included being treated with respect or having friends and family they could turn to in an emergency.

Societies should not aim for just economic growth if they wanted to increase the happiness of their citizens, said Professor Diener, who is considered the world’s leading expert in the emerging field of ”positive psychology”, or happiness studies.

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