Surprising Survey Results On What Makes You Happy

June 4, 2017

You know what makes you happy, right? “Happiness” is getting a lot of press lately. There are more and more books on it and more references to it in the news and media. It’s interesting to see the difference between what we think makes us happy and what really does.

Catherine Sanderson, professor of psychology and instructor at NYC’s One Day University, teaches a course on happiness. Here is what she found in her research:

What You THINK Makes You Happy:

• Education/IQ
• Money
• Weather
• Life Events
• Marriage (see below)
• Children

What REALLY Makes You Happy:

• Optimism
• Religion/Spirituality
• Shopping (We girls have always known this!)
• Eating
• Exercise/Sex
• Family and Friends

Interestingly, marriage (to anyone) makes men happy. Sanderson said that having a wife is a good deal no matter who it is (too funny). For women, however, WHO they are married to makes the difference.

They found that there was no increase in happiness just because someone had children. They reason that this is because many of the tasks associated with children such as diaper changing, laundry, cooking, etc., are not necessarily joyful activities.

This is not to say that you don’t experience joy with children but they do not necessarily increase one’s overall happiness level. I guess this is true although one of the things that can instantly put me in a good mood is to think of my kids or look at pictures of them when they are little. 

How I Gained Perspective on Happiness Early On . . .

Early on in my career, I had the opportunity to do a significant amount of international travel. It gave me a great perspective on what really makes people happy. I should have started writing books on happiness back then! Some of the happiest people that I met were living in grass huts in third world countries. Many times, these cultures have things that we don’t have. They have a greater sense of community, lots of family around, lots of meals together, more exercise and a social life that can make some of ours (well, mine anyway) look pathetic. Our idea of what an "advanced" culture looks like can be deceiving. 

I find that it’s the simple things that make us the happiest. Here are some of my blissful events:

  1. My morning coffee – I have to say that this is one of the highlights of my day. I just love my morning cup of Joe! Strong, French Roast is my preferred drug of choice.
  2. Chatting with my son or daughter. Both of my kids live out of town right now and I will drop almost anything to pick up their phone calls or spend time with them. 
  3. Spending Time with my love  - Even if we don't say a word . . . 
  4. Nature - OMG, I have always loved being in nature but the older I get, I the more I need it and crave it's healing and restorative effects.  
  5. Exercising. I really do enjoy this. I often think of Mitch Albom’s, Tuesdays with Morrie, the best selling book about Morrie Schwartz, his former college professor who was suffering from the degenerative disease, ALS. When asked to describe his perfect day, it included going to the gym. On days when I don't feel like going, I think of Morrie and how much this simple activity meant so much to him and how much it means to me.
  6. My Front Porch and Back Patio - especially in the summer when we can have family and friends over.
  7. My Bed. I love sleeping. I must not have always had a warm comfortable bed because I am so grateful when I get into mine at night. Who knows where I have been before? 
  8. Creatively Expressing Myself - Who knew? From financial nerd to writer, speaker, and painter? Wonders never cease, huh? 

What makes you happy? I'd love to hear from you! Until next time, be happy 🙂



​p.s. Discover Your Unique Wealth DNA - Take My Wealth Assessment HERE to Predict Your Money Attraction Ability (and how to amp it up)

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Kimberly Adams

About the Author

Kimberly Adams

Kimberly Adams is a Business and Wealth Coach, Speaker and Author. She has the unique combination of having spent decades in both the tax and financial world as well as decades devoted to personal growth and transformation with many certifications in coaching, speaking and energy healing

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Erica Chafkin

What truly makes me happy is connecting with others on a deep level, whether it be with my loved ones, friends, or clients at work. Just knowing that I’m making a positive difference in their lives really lifts my spirits and makes me feel great.

    Kimberly Adams

    That is awesome Erica! So great that you are doing what you love!

Katherine Hartvickson

I always look forward to your blogs Kimberly – and since I know you I know that what you write about is the real you, not pretending to be anyone other than the unique and special you! Have fun at Susan’s event – I know that all of you will be sharing great information, inspiration, motivation and action steps with those in attendance.

    Kimberly Adams

    Awww, thanks a lot Katherine. That means a lot to me! Will miss you at Susan’s but hope to see you sometime in the near future! xoxo

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