Joy to the World (Happiness)

What is happiness? And how do you get it?

We all want to be happy in our lives, but how do we go about achieving it? According to research, it’s got less to do with fame and fortune and a lot more to do with things much closer to home.

The word “happiness” encompasses a huge variety of positive feelings including cheerfulness, optimism and joy.

According to Professor Gordon Parker, Executive Director of the Black Dog Institute, psychologists find it useful to distinguish between what he calls a “hedonic” and a “eudemonic” state.

A hedonic state is a short-lived state of pleasure while a eudemonic state is one associated with ongoing wellbeing, engagement in relationships and contentment.

Professor Parker says that some of his findings from the research he had studied showed:

  • 50 per cent of a person’s satisfaction with life comes from a genetic predisposition;
  • Marital status, education, religion and income count for just eight per cent of life satisfaction;
  • Older people are consistently more satisfied with their lives than young people;
  • Married people are happier but that could be because they were happier people to begin with; and
  • Religion has a positive effect on wellbeing

    “Ultimately, it’s family and friends that are the most important,” says Professor Parker. “We need these interpersonal ties and social support to be happy.”

    The Professor went on to say that research also shows there is no significant relationship between how much money a person makes and how happy they are.

    “Research showed that people for whom money, success, fame and good looks are especially important are less satisfied than those who strive for good relationships with others, develop their talents and are active in social causes,” he says.

    For more information on happiness, head to the Black Dog Institute’s website at


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