New research has found that being happy boils down to just three factors – good personal relationships, financial security and a sense of life purpose. When the ‘golden triangle of happiness’ was present, it almost always resulted in positive levels of wellbeing. The Deakin University Wellbeing Index 2015 is based on more than 60,000 individual responses and rates satisfaction with life across areas such as standard of living, health, purpose in life, personal relationships, safety, community connection and future security.
Two of the three elements necessary to find happiness – financial security and a sense of life purpose – can be found through employment. Money and happiness were closely linked with the research finding that wellbeing consistently rose with household income up to $100,000. The idea that money can buy happiness is largely due to its ability to alleviate stress. While money alone does not make us happy, a lack of it can make us miserable. The research finds that it is still possible for those on low incomes to experience normal levels of happiness, provided that the other two factors are strongly positive.
People are happiest when they are active and when the have a sense of purpose or responsibility. Some people may find this sense of purpose from their job while others may find it from a social activity or volunteering. Work can offer a sense of achievement, a boost of self-esteem as well as financial security. Average wellbeing for those who are unemployed is much lower than for those in full or part time employment, retirees and students. Those who engage in full time volunteering also tend to have very high wellbeing rating 6.1 points higher than the normal range in the ‘satisfaction with community’ domain.
Some other interesting findings from the study include;
- Those who use social media for just 30 minutes a day were the only group to report happiness above the normal range – moderation is key.
- Being part of an intimate relationship is the most vital component of wellbeing.
- Good health is a far less powerful predictor for happiness than expected.
- Those parents who had regular contact with their mother and mother-in-law reported being happier overall.
- Tasmania is the happiest state in the nation whereas Western Australia had the lowest wellbeing score.
- Those aged 76 and over reported the highest average wellbeing score of any age cohort.
- More than seven in ten say our best days are either right now or in the future.
- Almost one in three of us sleep six hours or less each night and this is associated with lower wellbeing no matter our age.
We can conclude that while there are a number of factors in place, your job can go a long way towards ensuring your happiness. As an EAP provider, Access EAP works with organisations to enable the creation of positive and productive workplace cultures. Whatever position an employee holds, a sense of purpose, employee enrichment and engagement can be achieved through a variety of programs.