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15-year research project reveals the essence of happiness

15-year research project reveals the essence of happiness
October 17, 2015

The secret to happiness is a result of three simple factors – good personal relationships, financial security and a sense of purpose in life - according to newly released research conducted by Deakin University.

The new publication What Makes Us Happy has revealed this 'Golden Triangle of Happiness' as the key finding from 15 years of research into personal wellbeing using more than 60,000 responses.

When these three elements are present, normal positive levels of mood happiness will almost certainly be found, regardless of age, income or health status.

The research, undertaken on behalf of national healthcare, financial services and retirement living organisation Australian Unity, is based on survey responses and, for the last 15 years, has recorded average wellbeing at around 75 out of a possible 100.

Deakin University emeritus professor Robert Cummins, author of the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index, explains “these results also show that people are naturally resilient.

“Even in challenging times, people do a good job of holding their mood happiness steady.

“We have an inbuilt defensive mechanism that generally returns people to their normal level of mood after most life events, good or bad. However, if the challenge is too persistent and strong, these defences fail, and people become prone to depression.

“It is interesting that money is not the most important corner of the Golden Triangle. This honour goes to intimate relationships. People on low incomes can have normal levels of happiness provided that their relationships and purpose in life are strongly positive.” Professor Cummins also says that it is also surprising that health and happiness are normally unrelated. While satisfaction with health falls as we age, overall happiness tends to rise.

The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index’s findings are summarised in the new publication What Makes Us Happy.

The study includes a range of other findings, including the effect of children on parental happiness (negative for low income parents, neutral for high), where we live and the use of social media (high use is linked to low happiness).

The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index evaluates satisfaction with life across a range of areas– standard of living, health, achievement (purpose) in life, personal relationships, safety, community connection and future security. Together, these provide a measure of mood happiness.

First conducted in 2001, the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index monitors the subjective wellbeing of the population and also keeps track of issues related to national wellbeing.

The survey involves telephone interview with Australians selected to represent the geographic distribution of the national population.

The full report What Makes Us Happy can be viewed at www.australianunity.com.au/aboutus/wellbeing

Image courtesy of Fernwood Female Fitness.

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