What Is Happiness? Five Characteristics of Happy People

My research team and I just completed a study to examine the differences in how happy people live their lives compared to people who are unhappy. Because we were interested in several characteristics of happy people, we examined the predictors of happiness from 30 different surveys. These surveys measured people’s spending habits, consumer choices, values, and personality traits. Results indicated that happy people make five little decisions every day that improve their well-being.

What are five importance differences between happy and unhappy people based on our recent consumer behavior studies?

Happy people manage their money well. Something that anyone can do every day is to make a budget and track their financial transactions so they don’t make impulsive purchases. Research suggests that individual will manage their money better when they have a clear goal—your money management goal could be to pay off a credit card, save for a comfortable retirement, or to start saving towards an emergency fund. Our data shows that if you manage your money better today, you will be happier tomorrow.

Happy people spend their money on life experiences instead of material items. Almost ten years of research has investigated the effects of investing money in life experiences, as opposed to material items. There is now robust evidence that when people spend their money on life experiences they are happier than when they spend their money on material items. However, our data shows that people who habitually spend their money on life experiences are happier than people who tend to buy material items.

Happy people think about the past fondly. Perhaps unique among all animals, humans have the capacity to travel backward and forward in time—to use the “specious present” both to relive past life events and to think about the future. Our data shows that happy people appear to live in the past, reliving the ecstasy, but ignoring the agony, of days gone by. When happy people think about their past they focus on their good memories instead of dwelling on the negative parts.

Happy people “catch” the emotions of others. Some people are vulnerable to experiencing others’ emotions–they are sensitive “catch” others’ emotions during joyful (and sorrowful) experiences. Our data shows that when someone smiles warmly at happy people, they smile back and feel warm inside. Therefore, if you pay more attention to the emotions of other people you will be happier.

Happy people live in a great community. A person is happiest when three basic psychological needs are satisfied: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Literally thousands of studies demonstrate the positive effect of psychological need satisfaction on happiness. Our data shows that these psychological needs can be met by one’s community. Happy people say that they feel belongingness where they live and that they look forward to coming home when they have been away.

BeyondThePurchase.Org helps people make the connection between their spending habits – how do you spend your money and who do you spend it on – and their happiness. To learn about what might be influencing how you think about and spend your money, Login or Register with Beyond The Purchase, then take a few of their spending habits quizzes:

How happy are you these days? Take our Happiness and Life Satisfaction quiz and find out your happiness score.

Some people are gadget heads and some are foodies. Which do you spend your money on? The Experiential Buying Scale provides you with personalized feedback to learn what kind of things you tend to acquire.

How do you feel about where you live and where you would like to live? The Quality of Place scale tells you how satisfied you are with numerous different features of your neighborhood.

You can also learn how well do you manage money by taking our Money Management quiz and if you focus more on the past, present, or future when you take the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory.

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  • Candie Filippi

    Money can’t buy happiness. I have never been a tourist in a shopping
    Mall Similar to many couples that have been made their love story memorable, ex: G Kelly and Prince Rainier. M. Callas & A Onassis.
    Mazzini Giuletta and Federico Fellini, Bergman
    and Roberto Rossellini. We must build a huge experience in our life to
    feel that joy and happiness. So be happy with only four set of clothes. But
    invest in travel experiences.. Learning
    how to travel is the best way to experience and learn. Traveling isn’t to be in a luxury airplane or
    hotel; it is to change places.
    Touch and get involved with the ethnicity of that part of
    the world .Because that is what
    traveling is all about. Invest time in learning languages. Study about that
    place before you travel, so it will help you to get the best of that experience that will
    enrich yourself. An earthquake, or a tragedy such as September 11th
    can happen anytime and take away material values, so invest your time in experiences that no one can
    take away,