This morning, Pope Benedict XVI announced that "True happiness is the goal in our life." During today's weekly address at St. Peter's Square, the pope outlined the way to find happiness, saying it comes from a strengthened friendship with God. "This friendship," he said, "you learn through a love for sacred Scripture, a love for the liturgy and (by cultivating) a deep faith and a love for Mary in order to truly get to know God better."
The pope's analysis comes on the heels of the world's most extensive study on happiness, which says that strong personal relationship could be the secret to a happy life. The study examined data from almost 150,000 German adults over the course of 25 years, hoping to extract the key to long-term happiness. The result: people who prioritize relationships and good health tend to be more happy, regardless of the major events in their lives.
The study's lead author Melbourne University sociologist, Bruce Headey, says,"It looks like the less involved people were in their relationships, the less happy they got."
Here are the biggest factors that could play a role in your long-term happiness:
*Your spouse: marry someone who is emotionally compatible. Marrying someone who is neurotic or has high anxiety weighs on your level of happiness. (My biggest apologies to Number 31!)
*Family focus: people who placed family goals over career goals reported happier lives. According to the study, women were less satisfied with their lives if they were paired with partners who placed a low priority on family goals. Those women were less happy than women who were single.
*Religion: the study couldn't figure out if it were religious practices or the social benefits that helped church-attending people feel happier.
* Work: more people who were working the amount of hours they hoped to work reported happiness. People who worked too many hours reported less satisfaction. Working less than the amount of hours desired, or worse, being unemployed, is even harder on overall happiness. Here is where the Goldilocks rule applies, where the work-life balance apparently needs to be "just right."
*Friends: People who had social interactions also reported a higher level of happiness.
*Exercise: working out, no matter what your weight, apparently makes people more happy. The study also found that obese women and underweight men tend to be less happy.
*Age: apparently (especially in the U.S.), people seem happier the older they get
So, what about money? One of the study's authors, Gert Wagner, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Germany, told LiveScience. "Money is simply a byproduct of good and satisfying jobs. If you want to be satisfied with your life, you must spend time with your friends and your family."
Sources: CNN, Catholic News Service, FOXNews