Can't Buy Happiness?

Money, personality, and well-being

How Do People Define the "Good Life"?

Research shows that self-development increases happiness.

Certainly, people value certain aspects of happiness more than others. So, we asked users of BeyondThePurchase.Org to defined the "good life." People selected one of four choices--the good life is: experiencing pleasure, avoiding negative experience, seeking self-development, or making contributions to others.

Define the good life.
As the graph shows, most people define the good life as developing their personal strengths. Research shows that valuing the development of personal strengths and contribution to others (eudaimonic aspects of happiness) are linked to the well-being people actually experience.

Possibly, people who seek self-improvement may be more likely to experience pleasure and happiness from purposeful activities, as opposed to people who seek pleasure directly. However, valuing pleasure still leads to pleasure-seeking (which, of course, also contributes to happiness). 

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At BeyondThePurchase.Org we help people understand the relationship between money and happiness. To learn about what might be influencing how you spend your money, register with Beyond The Purchase, and then take a few of our happiness quizzes, consumer psychology surveys, and personality tests. After each quiz, we will provide you with personalized feedback and graphics as well as practical happiness tips so you can will learn about how you can make little changes to be happier.

Ryan T. Howell, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at San Francisco State University.

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