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The seven secrets of a happy life [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2010-9-8 14:38:55 |Display all floors

Many of us struggle to find real happiness. Why is that? Studies in psychology suggest that part of the reason is that most of us are very bad at predicting how we’ll react when faced with many of life’s experiences. Consequently, we end up making choices that are potentially harmful to our emotional well-being. According to Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, we tend to overestimate, by a long way, the extent and duration of the emotional impacts of, say, a pay rise, the death of a loved one, or even moving to an area that’s sunny all year round. This is simply because, when we’re trying to imagine how an experience will affect us emotionally, we tend to focus too much of our attention on the most salient features of the experience in question.

In our minds, Los Angeles = sunny weather; money = nice cars and luxurious holidays. In reality, however, the many other less salient features that we often fail to consider will have emotional consequences. Los Angeles, for instance, is actually thousands of miles away from our friends and family; we need to work harder in order to earn more. This explains why happiness often eludes us when we blindly follow our imaginations or what conventional wisdom tells us about what makes us happy.

So where should we look for happiness? New research in psychology and economics suggests the answer lies in what we already have – things like friends and family. The secret to being happy is simply to devote more of our time and attention to these happiness-rich and fulfilling experiences.

As the US rabbi Hyman Schachtel once famously said: “Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.”
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Post time 2010-9-8 14:41:18 |Display all floors

Money buys you little happiness

One of the most infamous findings in happiness research is that money doesn’t buy a lot of happiness – or at least not as much as we think it should. According to the economist Richard Easterlin, part of the reason for this is that we care a great deal more about what other people earn than what we do ourselves.

For those whose most basic needs are already met, money buys additional happiness only if it can lead to higher status in society, which is hard when everyone else is also getting richer over time. Since people’s comparison group varies from place to place, those living in more affluent areas of London, for example, would probably need to earn at least £200k a year to ensure that they are staying well ahead of most other Londoners – and even that might not be enough.

Moreover, according to the Princeton University psychologist Daniel Kahneman, the weak relationship between happiness and income can also be explained, in part, by the evidence that richer people tend to spend more time engaging in activities associated with no greater happiness, on average, but with slightly higher tension and stress – such as work, childcare and shopping. By contrast, people with lower incomes tend to spend more time engaging in happiness-rich experiences such as socialising with friends and other passive leisure activities such as resting and watching TV.

However, when these high- and low-income earners are prompted to think about the impact of income on their happiness, both tend to focus more on the conventional possibilities of money when evaluating its effects. This leads to the conclusion that life must be significantly happier for the rich than for the poor.

The truth is quite the opposite: poorer people can – and often do – lead significantly happier lives than the rich.
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Post time 2010-9-8 14:41:50 |Display all floors

Friends are worth more than a new Ferrari

How much money is enough to make us happy? Because the effect of income on our happiness depends largely on how much money our colleagues, neighbours and friends earn, it’s difficult to say. Yet it’s easier to say how much extra money is required, on average, for a socially isolated person to be just as happy as a socially active person – no more, no less.

The calculation of prices of various non-marketable goods such as the joy of friendship or marriage, first put forward in the early 1990s by the University of Warwick economist Andrew Oswald, is based on a very simple idea. Imagine that, on average, money makes people happy. Imagine also that people who see their friends every day are significantly happier than those who live in isolation. In principle, then, it’s possible to calculate how much extra income would have to be given to someone to compensate exactly for the lack of social life.

In Britain, for example, a pay rise of £1,000 is associated with an increase in happiness of approximately 0.0007 points on a self-reported seven-point happiness scale. Seeing friends more often, on the other hand, is associated with an increase in happiness of approximately 0.161 points. What this implies is that swapping a sociable life for an isolated one requires a pay rise of approximately 0.161/0.0007 – roughly £230,000 a year. That’s a little more than a new, gleaming Ferrari 612 Scaglietti.
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Post time 2010-9-8 14:55:48 |Display all floors
People here say £50,000 per year salary is enough ( twice the national average ) for a lifestyle that would make them happy.

But i would prefer to be miserable/rich than miserable/poor.

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