Best predictors of happiness and unhappiness:
Interesting that a major contributor to being unhappy is a long commute! What about money? What about being married?? This article answers them all:
Psychologists armed with statistically significant survey data have a lot of advice on how to be happy, but we don’t seem to be very good at following it.Read the rest of the article here:
The daily activity most detracting to people’s happiness is commuting. Individuals self-reporting their enjoyment of daily activities ranked morning commutes dead last. Long commutes also correlate with people bringing the stress of work home with them, as summarized in this Slate article:A survey conducted last year for the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, for instance, found that 40 percent of employees who spend more than 90 minutes getting home from work "experienced worry for much of the previous day." That number falls to 28 percent for those with "negligible" commutes of 10 minutes or less. Workers with very long commutes feel less rested and experience less "enjoyment," as well.
As the article goes on to relate, long commutes also hurt our health. Commuters experience more recurring back and neck pain, sleep and exercise less, and eat more fast food. The same could be said of people working long hours, but the results are stronger for chronic commuters. Worse, commuting robs us of time that could be spent connecting with friends and family. That is particularly problematic as the amount of time spent socializing is consistently ranked as the daily activity most enjoyed by individuals and the strength of relationships highly correlated with happiness.
Nevertheless, the average commute length is growing.
If you’re looking for advice on how to be happy rather than avoid unhappiness, there’s no shortage of psychologists offering advice based on their research. A strong marriage or generally investing in your personal relationships is highly advised - Vaillant, the director of a 76 year old study on Harvard men from the classes of 1942, ‘43, and ‘44, goes so far as to advise, “The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”
Money improves happiness only to a point, although you can get more happiness per dollarby spending money on experiences instead of possessions, spending on others, and buying many small pleasures instead of a few big ones