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6 Factors that Determine Happiness

There are a number of determinants of happiness.   WhatIFPA have delved through research to pick out what matters.  We are happy if this helps you to see any areas, which you feel need to be addressed in your life.

1. Spirituality

In some studies religion was noted as key (Vani K. Borooah 2006), but even as a religious person I have seen non-religious people happy.  So in thinking ‘what was is it that makes them happy?’ It was a spirituality and connection to self. A complete self-awareness of who they are, which enabled them to be content, and grow.

2. Decent Standard of Living

There is recognition that happiness is not reliant on a person’s income.  In some cases it can have a negative impact (Powdthavee, N 2008).  That said there is a level of income that gives people a level of security, removes worries and allows people to enjoy life.  Only 64% of people polled by CAFOD and Tearfund put a priority on a high income.

3. A Good Family and Social Life

A good family and social life is easy to say, but 70% of working fathers and working mothers report they don’t have enough time for their children (Family Matters Survey; The National Partnership for Women & Families, 1998).  What we do know is that personal balance is critical to happiness.  The CAFOD and Tearfund poll on what makes people happy showed the top priority for 97% of people was spending time with friends and family.

4. A Good Living Environment

A good environment is about creating the space that you want around you: home, neighbourhood and working environment.  Mourato and MacKerron 2013 showed a link between environment and happiness.  Make and shape your environment.

5. Good Health

There are three factors to health nutrition, mind and body.  The awareness of nutrition and the benefits of what we put into our body, so that we eat to live.  The health of the mind is essential and practices like mediation can support its maintenance.  What research shows is that there can be a misconception in the affect of the quantity of fitness to health.  In is not the quantity but the quality.    Wang and Wong 2011 studied the relationship between leisure satisfaction and well-being and happiness. They found that it was not the quantity but quality of the leisure time, and how it is used has a positive relationship to happiness.

6. Loving What You Do

Those people that work in what they are passionate about, or have enough time to be able to do and fund what they are passionate about are happier.  The CAFOD and Tearfund poll on what makes people happy showed having an interesting job was important for 92% of Britons.

There are number factors that determine happiness, and every person will have their own unique mix.  The important thing is to enrich any areas where there are deficiencies.


  • Borooah Vani K, 2006, How much happiness is there in the world?  A cross country study.  In Applied Economics Letters, Vol 13 P.g. 438 – 488
  •  Flickr by Camdiluv ♥ at
  • Happy Planet Index 2012
  • Mourato, Susana and MacKerron, George, 2013, Happiness is greater in natural environment.  In Global Environmental Change
  • Powdathavee, Nattavudh. 2008 “How much does money really matter? Estimating the causal effects of income on happiness. ”Published online.
  • Values Survey Integrated Data File 1999–2002
  • Wang, Miao and Wong Man Chiu Sunny, 2011, Leisure and happiness in the United States: evidence from survey data. Applied Economics Letters, 2011, 18, 1813–1816
  • Wholly Living

What If we took our lessons from children

My children are teaching me so much that the learning process is 2-way.  I thought I would share 4 observations with you:


  1. Rain or shine my daughter doesn’t care whether it’s raining or sunny she wants to go outside to play.  We can often put barriers up on getting things done; like the weather.  Each barrier is as an opportunity, for example, a rainy day is the possibility to go outside and splash in wellies.
  2. No cap on creativity; my kids like to play different animals, and I join in.  We walk like dinosaurs, jump like frogs and slither like snakes.  It keeps me incredibly fit!   However, it does more than that I have to think how each animal moves and sound.  The ability to be anything is something we should keep doing past childhood.  The mind-set to explore with no cap on creativity.
  3. Do what they love.  At the moment that is making ice cream in the play dough machine, colouring, reading, role-playing animals and cooking with mummy.  They are always smiling and seem to be progressing well.  We should do what we love in life.
  4. Spread enthusiasm.  My daughter wants to cook, cook and cook.  I am weary that she sees me role modelling, but she also sees me reading and writing essays for my Doctorate so there is a balance.  What is evident is that we have the ability to spread enthusiasm and passion.

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