Conventional wisdom states that relationships and experiences produce happiness, not just money. This thought process, prevalent for decades, is busted by new research, which says that happiness is dependent upon what we think we have as compared to others, and not how much they have.
Happiness, success and wealth are not individualistic or personal, but is a broader, collective pursuit based on our own perception for other people.
MORE IDEAS FROM A Key Factor in Well-Being: Others’ Apparent Wealth
Money cannot buy happiness, but there is a new kind of association found between money and our perception towards it: comparison with other people's wealth.
Money by itself is a tool that can provide us with food, shelter, comfort and clothing. The connection between our happiness and our own wealth is overshadowed by the connection between our happiness and other people's subjective socioeconomic status.
Most of us believe if we earned a bit more money, we'd have more free money to give. But the wealthier people get, the more expenses they accumulate, meaning there is not that much "spare" income.
The result is that we often pass the buck, thinking that the wealthier people, or our future, richer selves, will have the capacity to give.
What is it that makes someone feel that theirs is a “good life”? Of all the ideas put forward over the past few millennia, two are most often extolled and researched today. The first is hedonistic wellbeing, often called simply “happiness”, which is characterised by plenty of positive emotions and general life satisfaction. The other is “eudaimonia” — feeling that your life has meaning and that you are realising your potential.
A psychologically rich life is one that is characterised by a variety of interesting and perspective-changing experiences.
According to psychologists, happiness and life satisfaction do not coincide. Life satisfaction requires individuals to take a step back to assess their lives while happiness mirrors positive and negative emotions that fluctuate.
Focusing on positive and negative emotions can lead to understanding well-being in a pleasure-based way. Happiness may be one of the elements in evaluating well-being but is not the only one.
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