Happiness has more to do with individual choices, lifestyle and one's spouse or partner than it does with childhood, personality or genetics, according to new research.
A comprehensive 25-year psychological study claims to have debunked the theory that long-term happiness in adulthood has strong ties to genetic makeup, personality traits and childhood experiences.
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Instead, the findings published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggest that factors including partner's temperament, faith, social participation, healthy habits and long-term goals weigh much more heavily into personal satisfaction.
On the other hand, the pursuit of wealth and material goods, as well as a neurotic partner, are key elements of unhappiness, the study showed.
"It appears that prioritizing success and material goals is actually harmful to life satisfaction," wrote study co-author Bruce Headey, an associate professor at the University of Melbourne's Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, according to The Age.
The study analyzed the annual interviews done with about 150,000 German adults between 1984 and 2008. It found that not only did personal happiness levels shift but they were based on factors like altruism, participation in social activities, exercise, church attendance and a measured amount of time spent working. Those with partners who were anxious, depressed or uninvolved in family matters tended to be less happy than those with positive partners whose role in the family was significant.
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