What Makes Us Happier Than Money?
The key to happiness isn't our income but something more meaningful, explains UC Irvine's Belinda Campos, Ph.D.
One of the striking things is that Latino Americans and throughout Latin America, tend to report higher than expected levels of happiness.
In places you would think that because of the relative economic disadvantages of those regions and those areas, that you would find less happiness.
This tends to be really surprising to people. I’ve even seen it described as a paradox, a paradox of happiness.
We think that more money should be linked to greater happiness. And we just don’t find that to be necessarily true.
We’re purporting to understand happiness from just one context and one perspective that tends to emphasize the self over other things. And that’s insufficient.
And so we should instead pay attention to the data that tells us that there’s these higher levels of happiness amongst these people in this part of the world and start thinking about what that means for understanding happiness. Maybe it’s not so much that we should be distracted by what money means for happiness, but we should instead be thinking about what are the sources for happiness that people have there.
And and there I think the news is really quite interesting.
What you find in the Latinos and the Latin Americans that are in various studies that have been studied is that it’s relationships that are really important.
This is a culture that doesn’t emphasize the self in the same ways American culture tends to.
What you find throughout Latin America is greater connections to your relationships, greater pro-social behavior. And it may be that that’s what’s the key link to the greater happiness that we see in Latin American societies.
The emphasis in these cultures is on managing relationships in ways that put others before the self. So adjusting to the preferences of others via acts as simple as what we’re eating or what we’re doing for fun, or they can be as serious as what career we’re pursuing, what person we might marry, and how we’re going to take care of our loved ones during crisis.
Things that sound pretty simple and they are but that when you get into the details, it starts to be something that is more likely to occur if you’re socialized into thinking of it as normal rather than if you’re socialized into thinking of it as an effort that you’d have to put forth.
So, for example, getting together with your family on weekends, being there, if somebody is moving, making, you know, showing up at the hospital, if somebody’s sick, showing up for all the baptisms and birthday celebrations and holiday events, those are things that are really prioritized.
It emphasizes having mutual obligations to others
There is a definite negative connotation to obligation in English.
If you say the same word in Spanish obligación, it really doesn’t sound so negative.
And it’s it’s almost a stand up quality, you know, to meet the duties of what you need to do in your life to be there for the people that need you.