According to a new study, the secret to happiness lies in earning more money than your peers.
Christopher Boyce, from the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick in England, suggests that it does not matter how much wealth people make as long as they are doing better financially than their fellow mates.
AdvertisementWe tend to be happy "as long as we've got more than the people around us," Live Science quoted him as saying.t apparently takes from the concept of "doing better than the Joneses," which is common among children. For example, a toy gets ditched as soon as a shinier toy in the hands of another child is spotted.
Boyce insists it holds true for adults as well.
He added: "You might buy a new car. But if your neighbor has just bought the very same car, that new car doesn't seem as good as it once was if you were the only one to have that car."
The researchers studied the British Household Panel Survey data between 1997 and 2004, in which more than 80,000 participants rated how dissatisfied or satisfied overall.
They compared the subjects' income with various reference groups, including geographical region, gender and education, and age.
It was found that a person's life satisfaction was primarily linked to the income position within each peer group.
The researchers cited the results to explain why when national economies grow, average happiness levels do not necessarily increase.
Boyce said: "It's about having more than everyone else, which is why our nations are not increasing in happiness on average.
"Our study underlines concerns regarding the pursuit of economic growth. There are fixed amounts of rank in society - only one individual can be the highest earner.
"Thus, pursuing economic growth, although it remains a key political goal, might not make people any happier."
The study has been published in a recent online edition of the journal Psychological Science.