The Secrets of Happiness

Comments Off on The Secrets of Happiness
The Secrets of Happiness

Happiness is defined as "experiencing pleasure, satisfaction, or joy."

Happiness is very important.  At the societal level, happy populations seldom engage in crime, terrorist activities, or political revolts.  At the organizational level, research consistently shows happy employees to be more productive, even though happiness is just one of many factors involved.  At the individual level, a person's happiness plays an enormous role in determining how successful he or she will be and it determines how satisfying the experience of that success will feel to the individual.

If happiness is so important, we obviously need to discover what really determines happiness.  With that in mind, new research is finally revealing the answers.

Studies of genetics have found that a predisposition toward happiness is inherited.  A gene that helps in switching on the neurotransmitter serotonin is linked to positive moods, and people who have inherited longer variations of that gene reported feeling happier.

However, it appears that only one-third of happiness is actually genetically determined.  Studies on identical and fraternal twins in 2012 found that even when people have the same genetic makeup, some people are happier than others. 

What this means is that happiness is largely within the control of the individual.

Yet, many activities we often associate with increased happiness—including accumulating greater wealth, purchasing products, going on vacations, or even moving to places where we can experience greater affluence—have recently been shown to make little or no impact on happiness. 

However, there are important exceptions, and understanding those exceptions is essential to individuals, marketers, managers, investors, and government leaders.

Consider the influence of wealth.

At a national level, there is a difference in happiness between people who live in impoverished countries where they face a daily struggle to meet their basic needs, and those who live in wealthier countries.  However, contrary to what many would assume, happiness does not continue to climb with higher incomes.

This is known as the Easterlin Paradox.  Its namesake, USC economics professor Richard Easterlin, explains:  "Simply stated, the happiness-income paradox is this:  At a point in time both among and within countries, happiness and income are positively correlated.  But, over time, happiness does not increase when a country's income increases."

In fact, we would expect that happiness would have increased markedly in countries like Chile, China, and South Korea, where per capita income has doubled in less than two decades...

To continue reading, become a paid subscriber for full access.
Already a Trends Magazine subscriber? Login for full access now.

Subscribe for as low as $195/year

  • Get 12 months of Trends that will impact your business and your life
  • Gain access to the entire Trends Research Library
  • Optional Trends monthly CDs in addition to your On-Line access
  • Receive our exclusive "Trends Investor Forecast 2015" as a free online gift
  • If you do not like what you see, you can cancel anytime and receive a 100% full refund