Scientists have found out what makes people happy and how long happiness lasts

A state of happiness supports a person's physical health - this has been proven in a number of studies. Therefore, scientists are interested in cases that affect the level of human happiness and mental well-being. Specialists from the University of Sydney (Australia) for 16 years, watched a group of about 14 thousand people. They studied how different life events affect two indicators - happiness and life satisfaction.

The experts emphasize that while happiness and satisfaction are often seen as equal but they are two different states per se. Thus, by happiness researchers understand the level of positive emotions, which in adulthood, as a rule, is quite stable and tends to strive for the same values after positive and negative experiences. This process of returning to the previous state of mind in new circumstances, scientists call "hedonic treadmill". 

At the same time, satisfaction means a feeling associated with a sense of fulfilled duty, achieved goal. For example, a person may be satisfied with his position at work, income level, but not feel happy. As a rule, the factors that increase the level of happiness increase the level of satisfaction at the same time, but this is not always observed. The birth of a child may lead to higher levels of satisfaction with life, but lower levels of happiness, which is associated with a drastic change in life. 

In total, experts have studied how the level of happiness and satisfaction is influenced by 18 events, both positive and negative. Among them were such situations as marriage, the birth of a child, dismissal, obtaining a new job, death of a loved one, etc. Among the factors maximizing the level of life satisfaction, the experts mentioned marriage, the birth of a child, financial income, and retirement. The death of a child or spouse, monetary loss, injury, illness, and separation were identified by scientists as negative events that have the greatest impact on the level of happiness and satisfaction. 

Specialists found that even after good and bad events a person sooner or later returns to the same level of happiness and satisfaction with life. Moreover, after joyful events, such as marriage, high profits, etc., as a rule, the increased level of happiness remains for several weeks or months. After that, the person again finds himself or herself on his or her "hedonic treadmill". At the same time, it takes an average of 2-3 years for a person to reach the same level of happiness after his or her spouse's death. 

It also turns out that a number of events can be perceived as both positive and negative experiences, depending on what the person is focusing on. These include dismissal, promotion, new job, relocation. However, as researchers found out, these events only briefly knock a person out of the usual feeling of happiness. Another point that was discovered during the research is the factors that allow a person to quickly return to the usual level of happiness when meeting with negative experiences. As it turned out, the most powerful protective potential is good physical health, a loved one, and the ability to manage financial risks.

July 7, 2020, 10:46 a.m.

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