In a study conducted by Diener and Fujita (1995), the availability of “material” resources was 9 times less important to happiness than was the availability of “personal” resources such as family and friends.
Imagine for a moment that today was your last day on Earth. Now, make a list of all the things that you feel you’ve accomplished, all the things you’re proud of, and all the things that make you happy.
Is your car on the list? Your TV? Your iPod? Is your salary on the list? No, I wouldn’t think any of these things are on your list. What you are likely to find on your list are the fundamental elements of a satisfied life — your relationship with family and friends, the contributions you have made to the lives of others, and the celebrated events in your life. Those are the building blocks of a happy life.
Many of us live day-to-day as if the opposite were true. Instead of appreciating what is truly important and making that our priority, we collect things and indicators of success, without questioning just what success really means.
You are neither a better nor worse person for the kind of car you drive, the size of your home, or the performance of your mutual funds. Remember what’s on your list…what really matters in your life.
Diener, E., & Fujita, F. (1995). Resources, personal strivings, and subjective well-being: A nomothetic and idiographic approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 926-935.