In 1939, the local British newspaper Bolton Evening News ran an advertisement asking readers to define happiness. The ad was placed by a social research organisation called Mass Observation. In February 2014, the same experiment was repeated by psychologists at the University of Bolton and published in The Bolton News.
When the experiment was first conducted, the top three definitions of happiness included security, knowledge and religion. The latest results show that people are defining happiness a little differently nowadays.
In both surveys, participants were asked to rank 10 potential markers of happiness from most important to least important. While security has remained in the top three almost eighty years later, the first and second places were taken by good humour and leisure time. Religion has all but fallen off the radar.
While luck was considered as being vital to happiness by about 20 per cent of respondents back in 1939, the contemporary results suggest that 41 per cent of participants think of luck as going hand-in-hand with happiness.
Both generations agreed on one thing: money does not necessarily buy happiness and real happiness can be found in the little things in life, such as spending time with family and taking the dog for a walk.
Why not have a read of some direct responses from those surveyed from both generations?
Then: “Enough money to meet everyday needs and a little for pleasure.”
Now: “Knowing that my rent is paid on time and I can afford to eat healthily.”
Then: “I would like a little home, not many possessions…congenial and satisfying companionship, the availability of good music and books.”
Now: “Engaging in my hobbies, spending time that is free of worry….Simple things like enjoying a nice meal or receiving care and affection.”
Then: “When I come home from the pit and see my kiddies and wife, I am happy.”
Now: “Simple things like going out for a walk…you don’t need tons of material things to be happy, you just have to be happy in the place you live and with the people around you.”
Read more at Huffington Post.
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