Money doesn’t buy happiness. But what does? According to a large worldwide study, having choices in life and being able to express yourself are the most important ingredients in being happy.
Researchers in New Zealand collected data from all around the world on what factors contribute to well-being. Altogether, the studies included 420,599 people from 63 countries over several decades, so the science behind their results is very strong.
“The main finding is that money does not buy happiness and well-being,” says Dr. Ronald Fischer, lead author, in an email to Metro.
“Choice and autonomy are more directly related to happiness than having lots of money. Autonomy provides you with the options to pursue meaning in your life, to find activities that stimulate and excite you and keep you active,” explains Fischer, who is a senior lecturer in psychology and Fellow of the Centre for Applied Cross-Cultural Research at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
He and colleagues were surprised by the finding that choice and self-expression are more important than money, especially once you have your basic needs met.
“We did not predict we would find these clear patterns when we started and none of our friends or colleagues would have bet on this.”
Job searchers take note.
“People may not need to go for the highest paying job, but rather focus on something that fulfills them personally and gives them greater happiness and satisfaction in their life,” he says.
He warns that too much of anything is bad.
“Having too many choices or too much autonomy can lead to doubt about what to do, and regret that you aren’t making the right choices.”
The study was published by the American Psychological Association.