Happiness rates as top measure of success for Australians

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A new white paper released by National Australia Bank (NAB) has revealed that Australians aged between 16–70 rank happiness, not money, as the top measure for success.

The NAB commissioned Ipsos study of over 2000 people, aimed to discover just what it is that Aussies regard as ‘success’. And although happiness rated as the number one measure from a personal standpoint, money still held the top spot when participants were asked what they thought society values.

Other top measures in the study are as follows:

2. good family relationships

3. feeling fit and healthy

4. being a ‘good person’

5. having a good marriage

6. having good mental health

7. being in control of my life

8. being financially secure now and in the future.

Surprisingly, buying a house came in at number 15 and being rich at number 22. 

“It’s clear that Australians are rethinking success; that they want to live a life that is shaped by the happy relationships they have with their family and friends, by the way they look after themselves physically and mentally, and by being a good person,” said Chief Customer Officer Andrew Hagger.

How Aussies personally rate success contrasts dramatically when compared to how they think society views success, with being rich at the top of the list, followed by owning a home and having a well-paid job.

Around 56 per cent of Australians feel they’ve achieved success in life, but for many, success is still a work in progress, with 71 per cent saying they’re still working towards it.

Most Australians believe they’re good people (83 per cent) and have good family relationships (82 per cent), but fewer feel they’ve been successful at the things that contribute to their wellbeing. Only 61 per cent feel ‘happy’, 62 per cent say they have good mental health and only 58 per cent feel in control of their lives.

As far as having a good marriage, well, it seems the Baby Boomers have figured out the formula for success in that department, with 85 per cent thinking their marriage is good, compared to just 61 per cent of Gen X respondents.

Four in five Aussies believe that the power to be successful is in their hands, with 68 per cent saying they’re confident they can create a successful life. Working hard is ranked as the best way to reach that goal, with being good with people ranked second.

Read the Rethink Success report

Opinion: Can happiness pay the bills?

Personally, I’m a huge fan of the findings of this survey. But let’s keep it in check. The study first asked what we think is the measure for success. It then asked how we think society measures success. Which factor matters most?

Well, it should be what we think, but what we think doesn’t pay the rent, or the mortgage, or put food on the table. Society’s opinion of what is considered successful will always win out. Yes, reality bites.

What is most promising about this study is that our perception of what it means to live a good, successful life is shifting. I love that we’ve rated happiness higher than money. It shows that, as a society, we do have heart. We’re not all about the money. It really should make us feel good about ourselves and will, hopefully, lead to a shift in other areas of our lives, such as acceptance, forgiveness, kindness – the list is endless.

These are the areas that matter to the wider community. If we can redirect our personal views of what it is to be successful to the ‘universal’, then our world will become a better place in which to live. Money may make the world go ‘round, but we make our society what it is. Let’s make it a happier place.

What do you think is the most important measure of success? Would you like to see more ‘happy’ and less money making the world go ‘round? Is it possible to believe that we can change our communities for the better? Or am I just being a hopeless optimist?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



Total Comments: 30
  1. 0

    Argh, aye – most of us’n peons be happy, M’Lod, ter do without the money – s’long as we be happy in the fields! Three penneth fer ten year contract be good pickin’s, and grateful we be fer it, Sor! the good woife be sendin’ yer this small cake as part of ‘er ‘omage. (doffs hat to hand over cake)…. an’ the bairns’ll be trimmin’ them that hedges fer yer right smart, they will, or I’ll have the skin off’n their backs!

  2. 0

    Hopelessly optimistic. Happiness often equals self-gratification, by fair means or by foul. The nature of people hasn’t changed over the centuries, just a few of the more unpleasant traits redirected slightly, but many people will always be grasping, greedy, egotists who bully and trample others

  3. 0

    All those surved must have to much money.

  4. 0

    Happiness is how you perceive life, some people can be happy no matter what, personally I am happy if I am feeling healthy, then I can try and achieve other things. And yes I do live in hope that people are mostly good rather than nasty and greedy, I guess it depends who you come across in your daily life.

    • 0

      **puts on his best Bogie accent*

      It ain’t life, schweetheart – it’s some of the people in it….. of all the gin joints in the world, they hadda bring those politicians into mine…. play it, Sam…. you played it for them.. you can play it for me.. if they can take everything, so can I!

  5. 0

    I think the Government Spy’s read that 🙂
    ” I love that we’ve rated Happiness higher than Money”
    Any wonder they chucked us enough for a loaf of bread at the last Pension Adjustment 🙁 🙁
    And even that was a Discount Loaf of Bread 🙂
    Stay Happy ! 🙂
    With any luck,they wont be there long !!

  6. 0

    Actually this is nothing new. Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs” from 1943 proposed pretty much this provided that the basic needs were met.
    Provided housing was reasonable and food was sufficient along with acceptable safety and security then happiness became the number one aim in people’s lives.
    Those driven by the need to accumulate wealth and possessions are in fact abnormal, or these days on a treadmill of advertising and marketing hype that essentially postulates that greed is good.
    The happiest people I have seen in recent times are as poor as church mice, essentially in Asian countries.
    We in Australia are generally lucky but there are ever growing pockets of people being left behind and the disparity in wealth will, without doubt, make its presence felt, as per Trump, Brexit etc.
    It is not a case of envy so much as a strong believe in fairness which used to be strong in Australia but in the age of ‘The Individual” as espoused by Thatcher and her acolytes, Howard and Abbott, the concept of “The Community” has taken a serious hit.

    • 0

      Darn tootin ! So I’m getting my 2 Bobs worth in now, as they have FREEDOM OF SPEECH Well and truly in their Sights 🙁 🙁

    • 0

      If you really want FREEDOM OF SPEECH particolor, agitate to get rid of 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act. The three uni students in Qld did nothing wrong and Bill Leak’s cartoon is a reflection of some of the problems aboriginal children face.

    • 0

      If the time comes when I have to cower down in fear of speaking my mind – on that day I will declare war.

    • 0

      Its lover-ly what the Yanks told them, what they can do with their Political Correctness ! 🙂 🙂 But I wont even attempt to tell you what they told Hellery She could do with her FREE SPEECH Clamp down !
      🙁 🙁

    • 0

      Yes Tom the current LNP?IPA ideology is quite destructive to community and social cohesion.

      It is an attack on democracy really.

      To me happiness is freedom. Freedom to say and do what I want within confines of the law and my own moral judgement.

      To be free you actually have to have a fair amount of self generated income and be beholden to no one.

      That isn’t easy as it requires delaying gratification and long term planning and learning, a lot of hard work and a great deal of luck.

      I prefer the middle position. Not happy nor sad just being.

      Contentment is alright most of the time but if you don’t get angry and disappointed and frustrated occasionally then I figure you aren’t really living.

  7. 0

    As the old saying goes, “money isn’t everything”, but I’m willing to bet that it’s well ahead of whatever is in second place. Sure, we’d all like to be happy but happy doesn’t pay the bills. There is another interesting fact about money that I learned while working. Our union did a survey asking for rating of what we wanted in our workplace from a list of 10 possibilities. The top answer was job satisfaction. Money in our survey came in fourth and when I checked up on similar surveys, money came in 4th or 5th depending on the survey. Job satisfaction always topped the list.

    • 0

      I’m happily Retired 🙂 🙂 But a bit of Number 4 & 5 wouldn’t go astray !! 🙂 Maybe they’ll try harder next February ??

    • 0

      It is lovely when you see someone who is passionate about their work, like the guy growing orchards for a living on Gardening Australia the other night, he could not wait to get their in the mornings and often got in trouble for staying back late. If everyone did a job they were passionate about life would be a lot easier for everyone.

    • 0

      Yes particolor, me too. When there is no pay packet that gives a living wage coming in I suppose it’s easy to relegate money down the order. We also don’t get offered the chance at a bit of overtime when things are tight.

    • 0

      Got that wrong! Read the second sentence as – “When there is a pay packet that gives a living wage coming in I suppose it’s easy to relegate money down the order.”

    • 0

      Perfectly true OM. Nothing quite like the desperation of wondering where your next meal is coming from – let alone the stability and assurances you need in life, such as the prospect of one day owning a home, and actually having a little bit of extra.

      With all the unemployment and growing under-employment these days, and the over-focus and even feeding of the vultures in the ‘rental property market’ – which is about the only game in town apart from the building trades and politics these days, unless you own a QANGO such as ‘privatised’ roads, power etc – MILLIONS of people have about zero prospect of one day owning their own home and having those little luxury holidays once a year or so, but will be living in Poverty (even though Bob Hawke tore that town down years ago)….

      By the year 2016, NO Australian politician will be living in Poverty!

    • 0

      I remember my Boy Scouts days and I’m going to Steal something off them 🙂 I’m going to go around doing BOB A JOB for Myself !! 🙂 🙂 Cash Only 🙂 🙂 But owing to the present Exchange Rate the Price will be slightly higher 🙂 🙂

    • 0

      Good idea particolor. I’ve just finished scrubbing and re oiling the deck. It took me around 15 hours and I would have happily paid $20 an hour cash in hand to someone to do it.

      No way will I pay the huge amount a painter wants though as I’d rather do it myself at those prices.

      This current government is based on neoliberalism and that means just do what’s good for you because there is no community to worry about. Not nice but the way it is now.

  8. 0

    I would like our Politicians and ultra rich comment on this new white paper from the NAB . I am sure they would agree with it with enthusiasm and use it happily to make even further cuts to the elderly and less fortunate in life .
    In the LNP philosophy , their happiness is plenty of money and the others are to be fooled along with slogans like happiness is great without money . They are not even prepared to trim their gravy train to give the low income person a small level of comfort and happiness they also deserve . What will hit many of us in January 2017 is ample proof of this .

  9. 0

    Money money money …its a rich man’s world.
    Let me see:
    With money you can afford the best food, the heated pool, and gym so eliminate point 3.
    With money you don’t need to beg, borrow or steal so you can eliminate point 4.
    With money any mental health issues can be treated by the best psychiatrists and you can afford lovely restful holidays so eliminate point 6.
    With money you can afford a personal assistant and all the mod cons of a modern home so eliminate point 7.
    Point 8 is all about having money anyway.
    That leaves having a good family relationship and marriage. Its amazing how family remain close with money in your piggy bank and if your marriage if failing you can afford another one. So really it is point 8 – money!

  10. 0

    It’s a con job by the rich to get people to think that happiness is more important than wealth. It’s much better to be well off and happy than to be poor and happy.

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