Matters Less Than You Think
People like pretty. Good looks help your popularity and, by extension, your career - both boost mood. But
pulchritude on its own doesn't do much good.
If you're poor, money does make a difference. But above a threshold of about $40,000 a year, more won't make
you happier. Comparisons, though influence your state of mind: No matter how much or how little you make, doing better
than your neighbour will make you feel better.
Young people are more aware of bad news and negative emotions than are the elderly. Aging seems to bias us toward
the positive, despite more fragile health and finances; that may be because we've come closer to reaching our goals.
Smarts have only a weak effect on happiness; being brainy may decrease satisfaction by raising your expectations and
making you more aware of your shortcomings.
In the 1950s, book learning brought happiness, but a college education no longer lifts well-being on its own. Education
opens the door to a better career, but it also fosters higher expectations that may be disappointed.
Surprisingly, churchgoers get only a samll lift from the Lord. The cause: faith fosters both community ties and
social networks, which are both known to make people happier.
Matters More Than You Think
High self-esteem protects against psychological suffering, and a little bit of narcissism is good for your mood: People
with abundant self-love are less likely to be depressed, lonely or anxious.
Sense of Humour
Not taking things so seriously can bring hope and happiness. People with a hopeful outlook tend to also be good
Friendship is one of life's main joys. Due to novelty, spending time with friends lifts your mood more than spending
time with family. Being cooperative and knowing how to chat up the opposite sex are also associated with happiness.
Well-spent leisure time can lead to great leaps in happiness: Activities that combine socializing and physical activity
and require some moderate skills are the best (think salsa!). Most of us spend a lot of our leisure time watching TV,
which can be relaxing - but we'd be happier if we just went bowling. Don't envy your laid-off friends - while the unemployed
have more time, most have little active leisure, which is one of the reasons they're so unhappy.
In one study, volunteer and charity work generated more joy than anything except dancing. The sense of accomplishment,
the social connection and the chance to do something meaningful are what make it so much fun.