What is the secret to happiness? It’s a question that everyone has asked themselves at least once – and the perfect marketing angle for companies attempting to peddle their easy answers. But the solution isn’t in a rejuvenating facial cream, a new outfit or smart gadget, or at the bottom of a fancy, imported beer. Research from Queendom.com indicates that the solution to the life satisfaction puzzle lies in more intangible, yet achievable factors.
Analyzing data from 1123 respondents who took their Life Satisfaction Test, researchers at Queendom focused their analysis on two distinct groups: Those who are satisfied with their life, and those who are not. Here are the areas where they differed the most:
Sense of accomplishment
Score for satisfied group: 80
Score for unsatisfied group: 27
Satisfied people take pride in their achievements, whether big or small. They are determined to leave behind a legacy, whether it’s in the form of a lucrative business, a social change they initiated, or by raising a happy family.
Sense of belonging
Score for satisfied group: 75
Score for unsatisfied group: 31
Making connections with others continues to be the most basic, yet one of the most important human needs. Happy people make it a point to expand their network, which in turn contributes to their sense of belonging.
Sense of purpose/meaning
Score for satisfied group: 92
Score for unsatisfied group: 45
Being stuck in an unproductive rut can be disconcerting and discouraging. Satisfied people regularly set goals for themselves, whether it’s championing a cause, volunteering, or engaging in creative projects. A goal doesn’t have to be exceptionally challenging as long as it is personally meaningful.
Score for satisfied group: 85
Score for unsatisfied group: 32
Health really is true wealth, particularly when it comes to a person’s mental state. When faced with an issue that is affecting their happiness (depression, anxiety, grief, loss, etc.), satisfied people find ways to cope, whether it’s engaging in mindfulness practices or seeking the guidance of a therapist. To them, investing in their mental health is worth it.
Score for satisfied group: 78
Score for unsatisfied group: 30
In spite of the challenges they are going through, satisfied people always strive to find the silver lining. They focus on possibility rather than problems, and believe that there is a lesson to be learned in every experience. They have a hopeful and upbeat outlook.
Satisfaction with work conditions
Score for satisfied group: 78
Score for unsatisfied group: 35
Being satisfied with one’s job goes a long way to contributing to general life satisfaction. Satisfied people don’t necessarily have an easy job, but they do make it a priority to find an occupation and a company atmosphere that fits their preferences, interests and values. While they are willing to work hard, their mantra is to work to live, not live to work.
Satisfaction with relationships
Score for satisfied group: 84
Score for unsatisfied group: 24
While they do experience the occasional conflict, satisfied people are content with their relationships. They feel respected and supported by their family, and enjoy spending time with them.
Score for satisfied group: 78
Score for unsatisfied group: 38
Satisfied people possess a great deal of resilience and a fighting spirit. Obstacles and hardship rarely sidetrack them for long, and they tend to bounce back quickly. This isn’t because their life is easy, however. They have a good set of coping skills and recognize that resilience and mental toughness can only be developed through hardship.
Sense of pleasure
Score for satisfied group: 77
Score for unsatisfied group: 44
Satisfied people make fun a priority in their life. They regularly set aside time to engage in activities that bring them joy – time that unsatisfied people may see as wasted and that could be better spent on more productive activities. However, when leisure time is postponed, as is often the case with workaholics, burnout may develop as a result.
Dwelling on the negatives
Score for satisfied group: 34
Score for unsatisfied group: 75
Satisfied people will give problems in their life due consideration, but they refuse to dwell on worries or the negative. They recognize that ruminating does little for their peace of mind and contributes even less to resolving a problem. In contrast, people who are not happy with their life have a tendency to overthink issues and to keep their mind focused on the past.
“It’s important to understand that the relationship between these factors and life satisfaction is circular,” explains Dr. Ilona Jerabek, president of PsychTests, the parent company of Queendom.
“Having an optimistic attitude and happy relationships can certainly contribute to a greater sense of contentment, but the case could also be made that people who are already content tend to have a more positive attitude and happier relationships. That being said, this study does make it clear that improving these areas of your life certainly couldn’t hurt. Having a goal or a purpose, for example, working on your mental health, or focusing on the blessings in your life rather than your grievances could go a long way to improving your outlook. Even developing happier relationships is within your power to change, because it depends a great deal on your behaviour – how you communicate with others and approach conflict. In fact, many of the life satisfaction factors covered in our study are about focusing on and nurturing your inner self.
“And here’s another interesting tidbit from our study: Of the 19 factors we assessed, money came in 18th, indicating that it has little impact on life satisfaction. Essentially, while having money can make your life easier, it will not make you happy – especially if your mental health and relationships are not up to par, and your life lacks a sense of meaning and purpose. Money really does not and will not buy you happiness.”
Want to assess your level of life satisfaction? Check out www.queendom.com.
• Dr. Ilona Jerabek is President of PsychTests AIM Inc., and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.