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What Truly Makes Happy in Modern Society

  • Date Submitted: 06/17/2012 08:01 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 59.4 
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Recently, researchers have attempted to use a variety of statistics and surveys to answer a question that's occupied countless generations of philosophers: What makes us truly happy?

While some evidence suggests that happiness may be linked, in part, to relative wealth--how we're doing compared to jaw crusher those around us--overall the old adage that money doesn't buy happiness seems to hold true.

'We are materially so much better off than we were 50 years ago, but we're not one iota happier,' says Chris Peterson, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan.

We've compiled a list of seven factors that influence rates of happiness and depression. Many of these factors vary from city to city and region to region. Here's your chance to see how your city compares.

Happily Married

Is getting married one of the keys to a happy life? A report from the Pew Research Center suggests so--43 percent of married women and men reported being 'very happy', while only 24 percent of unmarried men and women said the same.

Interestingly enough, the happy halo that shines over married couples isn't the result of having kids--those with children were just as likely to be happy as those without.

Rather, there seems to be something about marriage itself that boosts both men's and women's feelings of well-being in life.

'Recent research suggests that people become less depressed and less lonely after they get married,' says Linda Waite, a sociology professor at the University of Chicago and author of The Case for Marriage.

After all, it's harder to be lonely when you've got a loved one to come home to every night.

According to Waite, men benefit even more than women from having a life-long companion. 'Women will talk to everyone,' says Waite, 'But most men tend to rely on their wives as their main confidant.'

In addition, women-typically the social planners in a relationship--ensure that the men stay connected to family and friends, another...

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