You can be happier…it just takes practice

You can be happier…it just takes practice

by Helen Hawkes for the Northern Star

Subjective well-being is the nickname experts in the field give to happiness.

Homeless people in Calcutta have been found to be less unhappy than those in California, because they have a stronger sense of community.

It makes you wonder what happiness is really about. And the truth is that, while it means different things to different people, we all have one thing in common.

The single, consistent factor in many happiness studies is the necessity for close connection, physical touch, the comfort of friendship and the deep embrace of love.

To this end, lifestyle choices – choosing the right partner, the right friends, or even the right job – may be more crucial to happiness than what’s in your genes, say researchers.

A 25-year study of 60,000 people found that long-term happiness is determined by lifestyle decisions including choice of partner, employment and religion.

Study leader and Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne, Bruce Headey, says the study turns the long-term notion of happiness being linked to personality on its head.

"Happiness isn’t just a matter of heredity, it isn’t just in the genes," he says.

"Genes might be about 50 per cent of the story but the rest depends on lifestyle choices – choices relating to your partner and also relating to your work life."

The study also found that people who prioritise altruistic and family goals over career and material success are more satisfied with life.

"Other things that matter are social activities, getting involved in social and community things with friends in an active kind of way," Professor Headey says.

He says a link between religion and happiness is also evident…

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