These days we consider good humor and leisure time to be crucial to our happiness
Psychologists from the University of Bolton in the U.K. have re-created a famous study conducted in the same town almost eight decades ago that sought to find out what made people happy.
In 1938, an advert was placed in the local paper asking readers “What is happiness?” reports Science Daily. After rating the importance of 10 factors from 226 people, researchers found that people believed security, knowledge and religion were the most important aspects of happiness.
Last year, Sandie McHugh and Professor Jerome Carson repeated the social experiment and found that while security was still in the top three, good humor and leisure came in poll position.
Meanwhile, religion, which was the third most important factor in 1938, has fallen to the bottom of the current list. In 1938, most people said they were happiest at home in Bolton, whereas today 63% said they were happier away from the town.
One factor that hasn’t changed, though, is the importance people place on luck — 40% believed good fortune was vital to their happiness both back then and in 2014. And in both eras, most people said they didn’t think happiness was related to material possessions and wealth.
“The overall impression from the correspondence in 1938 is that happiness factors were rooted in everyday lives at home and within the community,” said McHugh. “In 2014, many comments value family and friends, with good humor and leisure time also ranked highly.”