What is it that brings you happiness? Maybe for you it’s a trip away, a morning coffee or your favourite book. In reality, it may be all or none of these things, but researchers believe that happiness can now be summed up by this complicated equation:
But what does it all mean? Researchers from the University College London have concluded that the above equation shows us that happiness depends not only on what happens to us but also if other people have the same experience.
They initially discovered the formula in 2014 and recently updated it based on new data they collected on other people’s fortunes.
“Inequality reduces happiness on average, both when people get more or when they get less than the other people around them,” study author Robb Rutledge, a researcher at the University College London, told Daily Mail.
For the study, 47 strangers were given a number of tasks, and their level of happiness was monitored after each.
The results suggested that participants were happiest when there was parity between their own level of success and that of the stranger; disproportionate inequality led to feelings of envy and discontent.
In other words, we’re happier when we have the same circumstances as other people. But if the person next to us is either more or less prosperous, we’re aren’t as joyful.
The main take away from the study is that happiness may be less self-centered than previously thought and, in fact, relates much more to how someone feels others are progressing, and the key, apparently, is that people want equality.
“This is the first time that people’s generosity has been directly linked to how inequality affects their happiness,” the authors explained.
And while there’s no such thing as an exact equation for something as transitory as happiness, the research team hopes the developing formula will be able to help people identify sources of joy, thus, increasing their self-awareness of what causes them to feel this way.
“If we want to understand happiness, we need to be able to predict it,” he explained. “Hopefully, this research will allow us to help people that suffer from depression, and at the same time enable us to understand ourselves a little better.”
Via The Daily Mail