Simply having and desiring more things won't fetch any happiness, suggests a new study, which reveals a more nuanced approach to life - individuals who appreciate what they have tend to be happier than others.
The study, conducted by Texas Tech University psychologist Jeff Larsen and Amie McKibban of Wichita State University, suggest one key to achieving greater happiness is to continue wanting the things you have.
In the research, the scientists asked undergraduates to indicate whether they possessed 52 different material items, such as a car, a stereo or a bed.
The results of the research suggest that people can grow accustomed to their possessions and thereby derive less happiness from them.
"Simply having a bunch of things is not the key to happiness. Our data show that you also need to appreciate those things you have. It's also important to keep your desire for things you don't own in check," Larsen said.
If the students owned a car, the researchers asked them to rate how much they wanted the car they had. If they didn't have a car, they were asked to rate how much they wanted one.
Larsen and McKibban then calculated the extent to which people want what they have and have what they want.
Their findings show that wanting what you have is not the same as having what you want.
While people who have what they want tend to desire those items, the correlation between the two was far from perfect.
The researchers found that people who want more of what they have tend to be happier than those who want less of what they have. However, people who have more of what they want tend to be happier than those who have less of what they want.
The study is published in the journal Psychological Science.