Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 27 September 2020

You have more control over your happiness than you think, new survey says

A survey has found that those who believe that they have control over their happiness tend to be more content

A survey conducted by Tracking Happiness found that those who believe that contentment can be controlled rated themselves as happier. Unsplash
A survey conducted by Tracking Happiness found that those who believe that contentment can be controlled rated themselves as happier. Unsplash

We’ve all heard the positive quotes and motivational sayings about happiness being a state of mind.

But a new survey of 1,155 respondents suggests that people may actually have more control over their happiness than they think.

Conducted by Tracking Happiness, an online platform that features uplifting stories, the survey found that people who think happiness can be controlled are, well, happier.

The study asked respondents two specific questions. Is happiness something that you can control? If you look back at the last year of your life, how would you rate your happiness on a scale from one to 10?

It found that, on average, 89 per cent of the respondents believed that happiness could be controlled. The same respondents also rated themselves as 32 per cent happier on average.

However, those who believed that happiness was outside their control, were also more likely to rate their happiness under six (on the scale of one to 10).

“In a world where well-being is in short supply, it’s great to see evidence that your individual happiness may be more controllable than you think. This research ties in with my own. It hints at the fact that the happiest people have learnt and implemented strategies that give them a better chance of having a great day. In essence, these strategies inoculate happy people against whatever the world throws their way,” says Andy Cope, author of Art of Brilliance.

According to the survey, men and women responded in a similar manner when asked whether joy is within their control.

Those between the age of 16 and 30 were most likely to believe that happiness is controllable, while those 31 to 45 were the least

However, age seemed to make a difference. Those between the age of 16 and 30 were most likely to believe that happiness is controllable, while those aged 31 to 45 were the least. The study backs the U-curve in happiness when it comes to age, where respondents between the ages of 30 and 60 feel less in control of it, than those over 60.

Marriage status, employment and educational qualifications also played a role, the survey found.

Those with master's or bachelor's degrees are more likely to believe that happiness is controllable; as were those who are married, and those with full-time jobs.

When it comes to employment, students are the least likely to believe that happiness is within our control, followed by those seeking jobs, and those retired.

However, the study also notes that there is a difference between causation and correlation. That means that, although there is a correlation between believing that happiness can be controlled and being happy, that does not necessarily mean that one factor causes the other.

“On the one hand, the results of this study need to be interpreted cautiously because, as the authors note, the findings imply correlation and not necessarily causation,” says Dr Timothy Sharp, founder of The Happiness Institute in Sydney, Australia.

“At the same time, however, they’re consistent with numerous other findings that imply we definitely have some control over our happiness; and that focusing on this element of control is helpful. Happiness is undeniably desirable and beneficial; anything that helps us enjoy more of it can only be a good thing.”

Updated: August 5, 2020 04:31 PM

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