Supposing that you have hearing loss, what’s most likely to make you happy?
A) Winning the lottery, or
B) buying a new set of hearing aids
It might appear clear to you that the answer is A, but research on happiness conveys a very different story.
To start, most people do have a tendency to THINK that outside circumstances are more likely to make them happy. They routinely cite things like more money, better jobs, a new car, or winning the lottery.
What numerous studies have found, on the other hand, is surprisingly the reverse. The things that people actually REPORT making them happier are not external or materialistic—they are mostly innate.
The things that make people happiest are high self-worth, strong social skills, robust relationships, free time, volunteering, and humor, as revealed in the Stanford University video We Don’t Know What Makes Us Happy (But We Think We Do).
Winning the Lottery and the Hedonic Treadmill
If you answered that winning the lottery would make you happier, you may be correct, but research is not necessarily in your favor.
In one frequently referenced study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers interviewed several Illinois state lottery winners and compared them with both non-winners and with accident victims that were left paraplegic or quadriplegic.
The interview questions focused on examining happiness levels, and the results demonstrated that lottery winners were roughly just as happy as both non-winners and the accident victims.
The study concluded that individuals tend to have a fixed happiness level. Substantial events like winning the lottery or suffering a debilitating trauma cause a temporary surge or drop in happiness—but the individual’s happiness level in both instances will revert to the fixed point.
This is compatible with the “hedonic treadmill” theory, which states that most people maintain approximately the same levels of happiness throughout life, similar to when you adapt to and increase the speed on the treadmill.
For instance, if you land a job with a higher salary, you probably will be temporarily happier. But once your happiness level returns to average, you’ll just desire a job with even greater income, and on and on.
Buying Happiness with Hearing Aids
If you answered that wearing hearing aids would make you happier, your answer is most consistent with the research.
As indicated by social psychologist Dr. Dan Gilbert, 20 years of research on happiness has found that the single most vital determiner of happiness is our relationships. He explains that our brains have evolved so that we can be social, and that “friendless people are not happy.”
Which is fantastic news for hearing aid users.
Because the cornerstone of any healthy relationship is communication, and communication is contingent on healthy hearing, hearing aids enhance relationships and a feeling of confidence in those who wear them.
And research tends to give credibility to this view. Numerous studies have demonstrated that hearing aid users are pleased with their hearing aid performance, feel a positive change in their overall mood, and develop enhanced relationships and social skills.
As a result, wearing hearing aids promotes all of the things that tend to make us happier, while winning the lottery gives us more money, which at best will only make us temporarily happier. So the next time you venture out to buy lottery tickets, you may want to drop by the local hearing specialist instead.