Well, that’s exactly what the recent AMP.NATSEM Income and Wealth Report ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ tried to find out. This report explored satisfaction levels amongst people living in Australia taking into account their employment, lifestyle, family life and relationships. And whilst it did confirm that Australia is ranked equal third out of all OECD countries in terms of overall life satisfaction, it also discovered that money alone does not ‘create’ happiness.
To be truly happy your life needs purpose and meaning. Yes, it is important for us to plan, save and invest to achieve specific goals such as buying a home, educating our children and being financially comfortable in retirement but this alone is not a strategy for life.
This study also found that while people who are relatively well off tended to feel more satisfied with their way of life, they were not necessarily more likely to experience greater feelings of personal happiness or well-being.
Interestingly, it also reported that Australian men and women share quite similar levels of satisfaction with their overall life however women are more likely to report lower levels of satisfaction in all relationship measures expect for their relationship with their own children.
So if you are already working hard to maximise your income and your savings, how can you maximise the other aspects of your life such as general well-being and invest in a little happiness?
Here’s a few tips:
- Work to Live… Don’t Live to Work
The Pursuit of Happiness report found that social and psychological factors such as having friends and family were vital for happiness. Finding a life-work balance that includes time for yourself, your family and your friends is essential for happiness.
- Take Care of Your Brain and Your Body
Australia is ranked in the top 4 countries in the world who have the longest living people on earth with men on average living to 79 and women to 84. But what is the point of living longer if you don’t have the physical strength and mental agility to enjoy it. Scientists have shown that moderate daily exercise not only strengthens the muscles and builds energy levels, but also stimulates the blood supply to the brain and helps delay mental deterioration.
- Spend Money on Experiences Not Objects
Enjoyable experiences such as holidays, learning a new hobby, spending time with family, or joining a social club are found to bring longer lasting happiness than objects such as the latest iPhone or plasma TV. We are a nation of consumers however retail therapy only provides a temporary feeling of contentment and is often followed by regret and guilt.
- Know Yourself and Understand What You Really Want Out of Life
Aristotle wisely said that “happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence”. Taking that higher paying job in order to earn more income is not necessarily going to bring you greater happiness. In fact for many people it creates quite the opposite effect with increased stress levels and even less time to spend with friends and family doing the things they enjoy.
When we look up the meaning of happiness in the dictionary it delivers words such as pleasure, joy, contentment and satisfaction. Some may find happiness in money but most would find it in a baby’s laugh, or a good movie, or a walk along the beach, or in a relationship.
Whilst there is no denying that money is ‘associated’ with happiness, it alone is not a Strategy for Life.
Theresa Chapman is a Certified Financial Planner passionate about helping women achieve financial security. Theresa is an adviser for one of our partner offices, Strategic Planning Partners. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.sppgroup.com