'If You Re So Smart Why Aren' T You Happy?

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Despite researchers conducting hundreds of studies to try to unlock the key to being happy, it seems that the United States is still seeing a decline in happiness. The 2016 World Happiness Report found that there were “significant decreases” in American happiness over the past 10 years.

With all of the self-help books that there are and how much people talk about wanting to be happy, it would seem like more people would have figured it out by now. When asked what people would wish for if they could have anything, you would expect the answer was to be happy. According to a study by Raj Raghunathan, author of “If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?” chances are, his subjects didn’t have being happy on their wish-list. In his studies, only
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Happiness can’t be changed by changing life circumstances - how well educated you are, your net-worth, etc - according to Sonja Lyubomirsky, one of the world’s happiness researchers. Life circumstances contribute to only about 10% of happiness. In the consumer culture of America, life seems to revolve around money. However, the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science released a study showing that people who want time over money are happier. So prioritizing time over money will lead to greater happiness, right?

It’s not as straightforward as that. Most people at some point in their life have thought to themselves "If only I had more time.” They don’t really need more time. Instead, using their time with purpose or a responsibility to something seems to be the answer. Having time to just do whatever you want may make you happier in the short term, but it’s not sustainable. Studies seem to point towards one thing as a key contributing factor to happiness; How people think about the ways they spend their time.

Where people invest their time with a purpose to achieve something is generally where they find their overall happiness. Working towards a goal makes people more fulfilled and satisfied with life. It doesn’t even need to be an elaborate goal. It’s just living with
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A group of eight men over 70 years old spent five days living as if they were their selves of 22 years prior. They told the men that if they were successful, they would feel as they did in 1959. At the end of the study, the men were doing things more independently without the help of canes and other people.

In this study, the men were able to determine how they wanted to be and changed because of how they acted. It found that people frequently adapt to and become the product of whatever environments they wander into instead of determining what they want and shaping their environments to fit that vision. They do this even though the latter would make their quality of life higher.

More recent studies reinforce this idea that using time to achieve a goal plays a greater role in happiness than expected. In February 2016 a study published in the British Journal of Psychology found that the more social interactions with close friends a person has, the greater their self-reported happiness. There was one great exception. People with more intelligence are less likely to find happiness in social interactions. Brookings Institution researcher Carol Graham gives the explanation that those with more intelligence “are less likely to spend so much time socializing because they are focused on some other longer term

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