The Shockingly Mundane Secret to Happiness
By Valerie Siebert / New York Post
The ingredients to a happy life are something people spend their entire lives searching for, but new research reveals that they might be easier to find than previously thought.
According to a new study, only one in four people would classify themselves as “very happy,” with the majority (61 percent) claiming they are “quite happy” and another unfortunate 15 percent saying that they are “generally unhappy.”
But what are the habits of very happy people that those looking to become more content in our lives can learn from? One of the recommendations uncovered by the survey: maintain a hobby.
The survey of 2,000 people across the country by Exodus Travels found that 83 percent of very happy people report having hobbies, or at the very least passions for certain topics of interest such as being active, getting outdoors and traveling — as opposed to 53 percent of unhappy people.
In fact, those classifying themselves as “very happy” were 43 percent more likely to seek out new experiences than those ranking themselves as “generally happy,” and 90 percent more likely to embrace new experiences than those who felt they were unhappy.
There is also a disparity when it comes to specific kinds of hobbies, with very happy people being twice as likely to partake in the likes of biking, skiing, boating, traveling, hiking, playing team and individual sports as well as practicing meditation.
Running, in particular, appears to have an impact, with “very happy” respondents being nearly four times as likely to go running regularly as unhappy people.
Some hobbies were popular with people no matter their level of happiness, such as reading and playing music or singing.
Yet there is only one hobby that unhappy people were more likely to have over very happy people: playing video games.
In fact, unhappy people report being three times as likely as happy people to have no hobbies at all.
But hobbies are far from the only thing in the lives of the happiest among us. More than three-quarters of all very happy people claim to regularly seek out new experiences and active adventures, dwarfing the 40 percent of unhappy people who say they do the same.
Same goes for stepping outside your comfort zone, with 61 percent of very happy people engaging in seeking new adventures, as opposed to just 25 percent of unhappy people.
The happiest respondents are twice as likely to spend time traveling as the unhappiest, but even simply having a travel plan in the works is enough to make a difference, it seems.
Fifty-eight percent of very happy people are currently planning a trip, compared to just 23 percent of unhappy people.
Even priorities in planning vacations differ among content and discontented people, with unhappy people more likely to look for warm weather, beaches and minimal travel distance, while very happy people would prioritize interesting culture, good food and historical sites.
In fact, the happiest people are also nearly four times as likely to say that experiencing new cultures is very important to them.
“Sticking to the same old routine and things you are used to might seem tempting, but you might be less happy than you could be as a result,” says Robin Brooks, spokesperson for Exodus Travels.
“Getting outside, being physically active, trying new things, planning adventures and traveling are proven to make you a happier person and this study proves could make a difference if you are feeling unfulfilled.”
Very happy people are around 50 percent more likely to spend most of their time traveling outdoors, engaging in more things like camping, cycling and snorkeling than less happy people.
They are three times more likely to be regular exercisers and twice as likely to see themselves as very decisive people. Eighty percent regard themselves as spiritual, in comparison to 58 percent of unhappy people. They are also slightly more likely to actively look after their mental health.
When it comes to personalities, it’s perhaps unsurprising that most unhappy people would classify themselves as introverts, but that doesn’t mean it’s a defining characteristic.
That being said, very happy people report having an average of six close friends they connect with at least every few weeks while unhappy people say they only have two.
Unhappy people are nearly twice as likely to be currently holding a grudge and spend, on average, an hour and 29 minutes more every week thinking about the future than happier people — suggesting that happier people are more likely to live in the moment.
Brooks added: “There are so many ways to broaden your horizons and keep yourself from getting bogged down in monotony, from hobbies to socializing to traveling to new places. Happy people just take the leap.”
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