I am about to shatter your very understanding of happiness. For some this may be discomforting; for others this may be a revelation.
On any given day, if you ask someone if they are happy, their response will be dictated by their current state of happiness. If they are nearing, or in the midst of a happiness event, they will say they are happy. If they are recovering from, or in the midst of an unhappiness event, they will say they are unhappy. Happiness is event-driven.
The quantity of happiness events you have during your lifetime is the only true way to accurately measure your level of overall happiness with your life. Those who have experienced more happiness events during their life will view their life as happier overall. Those with less will view their life as less happier overall. The key to overall happiness, therefore, is to accumulate happiness events.
Which brings me to my research. I have often been asked by the media if my research on the daily habits of the rich and poor indicates that the rich are happier than everyone else. The answer is yes. But while wealth cannot buy happiness, it can rent it. The rich are happier because they are able to create more happiness events during their lives than everyone else.
To understand the importance of happiness events we must first dissect what causes happiness:
- 50% of happiness is determined by your genes
- 40% of happiness is determined by your activities
- 10% of happiness is determined by your circumstances
Genes play a major role in your level of happiness. Some people are simply hardwired genetically for happiness or unhappiness. They have a happiness baseline that they were born with. But the good news is that, irrespective of your genetic makeup, you can increase your level of happiness by engaging in certain activities that will make you happy and that will also change your circumstances in life. This is the true secret to why the rich are happier than everyone else. They engage in happiness activities more frequently than others and some of those happiness activities also altered their financial circumstances in life.
From my research I have identified specific activities that increased happiness in the lives of the wealthy and, at the same time, improved their financial and non-financial circumstances.
Happiness Activities That Improve Financial and Non-Financial Circumstances:
- Pursuing some long-term goal, big dream or major purpose in life
- Engaging in the daily habit of educational reading
- Practicing gratitude
- Practicing optimism
- Engaging in some creative pursuit like painting, writing, building, music, manufacturing, inventing etc.
- Engaging in new activities
- Overcoming a fear
- Aerobic exercise
- Mentoring others
- Helping others
- Doing work that you love in which you can make money
- Solving problems
- Overcoming obstacles that interfere with achieving some goal or realizing some dream
- Living in the present – enjoying happiness events without thinking about anything else
- Receiving awards for something you’ve done
- Losing weight
- Saving money
- Being productive at work
- Building relationships with other successful people
- Vacation homes – 52% of the wealthy own vacation homes. This allows them to engage in more frequent weekend retreats with business associates, customers, clients etc.
- Country Clubs and Golf Clubs – Many of the wealthy are members of country clubs or golf clubs. They engage in activities at these clubs with business associates, customers, clients etc.
Happiness Activities That Have No Effect on Financial Circumstances:
- Vacation homes – This allows them to engage in more frequent weekend retreats with family and friends
- Country Clubs and Golf clubs – They engage in activities at these clubs with their family and friends
- More unique social gatherings – Because the wealthy surround themselves with other successful people they are able to participate in more unique social gatherings
- More unique vacations – The wealthy are able to go on more unique vacations with family and friends
- More parties – Because the wealthy have more money they can have college graduation parties for their children, they can also afford to pay for weddings for their children and they can afford more parties for family and friends
Happiness is activity-driven. It is not a destination. It is the culmination of frequent happiness events. The wealthy are able to engage in more happiness activities because of the wealth they accumulate in life.