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What Makes You Happy?

Forbes.com has a list of the 12 things that make people happy in one of their slide shows.  Check out the slide show for some more details on each.

  1. Friends
  2. Sex
  3. Socializing
  4. Marriage
  5. Praying
  6. Relative Wealth
  7. Good Health
  8. Genes (Inherited)
  9. Work (Enjoy what you do)
  10. Money (Adequate)
  11. Experiential Activities (Experience over acquisition)
  12. Age (40+)

I thought it was interesting that they separated Friends and Socializing into two different entries.  Generally when you are hanging out with your friends you are socializing aren’t you?  Marriage, at least to me, indicates finding your absolute best friend, or soul mate, and deciding to spend the rest of forever with them.  So then you have someone very frequently to socialize with.  Not to mention the Sex. Granted some people do have Sex outside of Marriage, and some people are married and don’t have Sex, but to me the two really seem to go together as well, but the separating of the two is more logical.

Prayer is a good one, and I am glad to see they mentioned it.  Some people see religion as being very guilt orientated.  I on the other hand do not.  It is definitely a source of happiness in my life.  Especially when it is shared with my spouse.

Experiential Activities seemed to be the most insightful item on the list.  Specifically that they said that an experiential activity, like going on a vacation, did more for a person’s happiness then the acquisition of material possessions (that goes against Relative Wealth though).  I think this is very true though.  Especially when you experience this with a friend or spouse.  So, this actually comes down to taking time to do things.

Now Relative Wealth and Money are two interestingly related items.  For money they said if you have enough to meet your necessities then you are more happy, but beyond that it makes little difference.  But then on the relative wealth they say that keeping ahead of the Joneses makes people happy.  So do we take that to mean there is a gap in how money buy’s happiness?  While money is meeting your primary needs it makes you happy, but then it doesn’t until you can show how you have more then your peers?  It is odd that they separate them, but it is also thought provoking.

Personally I think that money can make life more enjoyable, but it is what you do with it that counts.  I guess for some people just knowing their networth is higher then their neighbors is good, but I see that as creating a competitive environment.  What happens when someone’s network goes above your’s?  Are you all of a sudden unhappy?  That is like attaching your happiness to the weather, or how a specific sports team does.  All events outside your control.

I would suggest that people are as happy as they want to be.  Sure, that is a nice list, but you could have all of that and still be unhappy, or have none of it and be the happiest person around.

So maybe a better question might be “How happy do you want to be?

1 Comment

  1. meregistered

    Excellent point Jim.

    I think we’ve discussed that before too.

    Although I know having enough money to actual meet all of your needs probably brings real happiness (I see this as synonymous with not spending beyond your means).

    -MEŽ

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