Want to be happy? Forget money and set yourself free.

I came across a fascinating study published recently in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology which examined the link between health, wealth and happiness  (Vol. 101, No. 1).  The New Zealand researchers collated a huge amount of data from 638 different studies – a total of 420,599 people in 63 countries. They found that a sense of individualism, personal freedom and autonomy were the biggest factors associated with people’s overall sense of well-being.  Money was only important to satisfy our basic needs but once these are met, the most important happiness and well-being factor is whether we have the freedom to make choices about how we want to live.

But it’s a fine line:  the researchers found that in the most individualistic societies (such as the United States), the greater independence from family seems to be related to increased levels of stress and ill-being.  On the other hand, citizens of countries where personal freedoms and family ties are important, such as northern European nations, tend to be the happiest, least stressed and rated their well-being highest.

2 thoughts on “Want to be happy? Forget money and set yourself free.

  1. I’m reading a fabulous book called ‘A year in the village of eternity’ by Tracey Lawson.
    It’s about the lifestyle of people living in Campodimele in Italy where it’s not uncommon for most people to live to be in their 90’s and still enjoying a great quality of life. They work for their food and spend a lot of time outside with family and friends. It’s a simple lifestyle based around food and family without the added complications and stress of city/corporate life

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