Being Happy

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What makes us happy? Research suggests that it isn’t extra money. In a recent survey in the UK, around half the people surveyed said that relationships are the biggest factor in making them feel happy. Rating second in importance is health. Other factors include friendships, freedom from stress, and being engaged in meaningful work or activities.

The happiest people surround themselves with family and friends, don’t care about keeping up with the Joneses next door, lose themselves in daily activities and, most importantly, forgive easily.

The Happiness Barometer, a recent study conducted in 16 countries, found that around 40 percent of those surveyed said catching up with their loved ones after work was the happiest time of their day, while more than 20 percent said they were happiest when eating with their families. By contrast, only 5 percent said they were happiest when connecting with friends online. Families and partners were, by far, the biggest source of happiness for almost 80 percent of those surveyed, with friends coming up next at 15 percent.

The results also show that, despite the global economic downturn, overall global happiness levels are high, with more than two thirds of people saying they are satisfied with their lives.

When they do need cheering up, around 40 percent have a night out with friends and round 20 percent give or receive a hug.

Commenting on the study, Dr. Richard Stevens, a social psychologist who specializes in happiness and wellbeing, noted: “While it is important to have enough money to live, income is a fairly irrelevant contributor to happiness. Without relationships, love, family or friendship, most people will not be content and no amount of money can fill this void.”

So there you have it. If you want happiness, don’t buy a lotto ticket; go hug somebody!

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