There is a Web site called the “World Database of Happiness.” It combines and analyzes the results of hundreds of surveys from around the world that have been conducted on life satisfaction. Most of the findings are predictable, but a few are surprising.
The database makes it clear that there is not a strong connection between material wealth and general contentment. It is a cliché to say that money can’t buy happiness, but the old saying seems to be supported by research. Many people still cling to the belief that gaining riches will be the answer to all their problems, yet they are probably mistaken.
Studies have been carried out on people who acquired sudden wealth, such as lottery winners. In most cases, after the initial joy had worn off, people were not left with a sense of lasting happiness. In fact, they tended to revert to the way they felt before they became rich. Previously contented people continue to be contented, while those who were miserable before sink back into misery.
If material wealth does not bring happiness, then what does? Perhaps happiness has something to do with where you live. The authorities at the World Database on Happiness have surveyed levels of happiness in different countries. Apparently, people in America, Canada, and Singapore are very happy; people living in India and Russia, not surprisingly, are not happy.
Other surveys consistently point to the importance of relationships. Family relationships in particular seem to be the key to long-term contentment. The Web site suggests that falling in love and having children are two of the situations that bring the greatest happiness.
Nowadays people look to technology as an alternative source of satisfaction. People increasingly spend more time alone watching TV or surfing the Internet rather than spending time with family. Can technology truly make people happy? It is too difficult to tell, but one thing is sure: If the Web site’s research is accurate, time spent with your family is a better investment than time spent making money.