Daniel Gilbert, professor and researcher of psychology at Harvard University and author of the bestselling "Stumble on happiness", has been researching time to find the true recipe for happiness, and its conclusion has been, in his own words: “Follow the advice of our mother”.
The vast majority of mothers advise their children to study to get a good job and start a family, and the truth is that this simple advice seems to be the key to happiness. According to Dan Gilbert "Married people are happier than single women. They are healthier, live longer and have more sex."
According to Gilbert, the quality of a marriage is, as expected, closely related to our level of overall happiness. And it seems that Marriage "makes you happier during a period between 8 to 15 years", so it is worth the "investment". But it is not a secret that happiness levels can clearly decrease over time. Of course, “Staying in a bad marriage makes people unhappy” he says but people with bad marriages "They get to be much happier after the divorce".
Money and happiness
Gilbert also speaks of money as an indisputable source of happiness, although according to him people usually deny a direct connection between money and happiness. Long ago he conducted an informal investigation in Boston, asking people if money can buy happiness. Almost all of them responded that the important things in life are free. But apparently this is not entirely true. Gilbert says that money does buy happiness, in his own words: "A little money can buy a lot of happiness, although a lot of money buys only a little more happiness."
The interaction between money and happiness is subject to a certain performance, and apparently it is € 60,000. According to studies conducted in the US, there are hardly any differences in levels of happiness between earning € 60,000 or 100 million. The reason is that four activities that provide us with a higher level of happiness are free: talk with other people, exercise, listen to music and practice sex. With a figure of around € 60,000 we feel very calm in terms of personal and family economic maintenance, and we also have plenty of other “whims”, which offers us all the happiness desired by the majority. But apparently, from this figure the increase in happiness is much more insignificant.
Gilbert says that people with higher incomes usually do not spend their money on the "right" things. For example, the time and money they invest at rest simply does not generate happiness. "People are happier when they engage in tasks in which the mind intervenes," whether it is talking, creating, or having sex (another point for marriage). "People are also happier when they give money instead of spending it on themselves." On the other hand, studies show that having experiences is better and much more pleasant than having material things.
Children and happiness
Finally Gilbert calls into question the happiness of people who have children, the last ingredient according to our mothers for happiness. While people can refer to them as the best thing that has ever happened to them, according to him "they are not a true source of happiness". And continues: "Once people have children, there is a slowdown in happiness", which is not invested until the children leave home. "The only positive symptom of empty nest syndrome"says Gilbert.
So why do people talk so happily about their children? Gilbert compared having children to watch a baseball game in which your favorite team wins. "You will always remember the magical ending, but forget what it took to get there."
"Of course, we love our children"says Gilbert. "I have never said that we should not have children", but the scientific data is there and difficult to refute. So mom's advice about children seems to leave something to be desired.
Finally, add that we are, without any doubt, the most social animal that exists, so it is not surprising that most of our happiness comes from interaction with our peers. In Gilbert's words: “If they told me to stand up and say what makes us happy in life, I would just say "other people" before falling to the ground”.