More happiness increases happiness

Scientists explain how happiness can be increased

What is the difference between happiness and contentment? Are happy people satisfied too? About the fundamental difference between the two terms and how you can experience moments of happiness more often. Also: four scientific tips for a more fulfilling life.

hen asked how satisfied you are with your life, after some thought, you are sure to come to an informed answer. But what does this answer mean and can the conclusion be drawn from it that, provided you are satisfied with your life, you also experience many happy moments? Psychological research has interesting answers to this question. While the question of satisfaction makes you wonder about your life, happiness refers to something short-term and momentary. Now you might think that people who have a lot of happy moments are also more satisfied with their lives. A person who often experiences happy moments should get an overview of these moments and then come to an overall judgment, which then reflects the satisfaction. But is it really like that? Can people easily form an overall judgment of their moments of happiness and unhappiness.

Nobel laureate Kahneman gives answers

Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman did research on this topic. He examined the influence of marriage on happiness and contentment. In order to capture the happiness they experienced, test participants had to state at many points in time how they felt at that moment. His results suggest that happiness and contentment are two concepts that are relatively independent of each other. It showed that women who are married are generally more satisfied with their lives. This finding was not surprising; it has often been reported that marriage makes people happy. What was surprising, however, was the finding that single women are happier than married women. How is this result to be understood, who is doing better now?

Social ideas are decisive

The common interpretation is that when asked about satisfaction, societal ideas are very much included in the answer. This means that the respondents think about what a satisfactory life should look like, or what values ​​a society prescribes. Since marriage is still a value in itself for many respondents, one emerged higher satisfaction among married couples. However, the tide turns when you look at happiness. There it was shown that Single women have more happy moments experience as married. One can only speculate about the reasons, but it is conceivable, for example, that single women undertake more and experience new situations more often and experience happiness as a result.

A similar mechanism is used at Relationship between wealth and satisfaction supposed. Studies regularly show that rich people are, on average, more satisfied than poor people. Here, too, it is likely that it is more the social appreciation of success that makes rich people satisfied and poor less satisfied than the actual happiness that people get out of money.

How To Maximize Moments Of Happiness

But how can you maximize the moments of happiness or avoid being unhappy? Here are a few specific ones Tips:

  • Maintain social contacts: Studies show that people are social beings and that being around friends is good for them. People with a lot of social contacts have, on average, a lower level of cortisone (a measure of stress) than people with few social contacts.
  • Often face new situations: Studies have shown that people get used to new objects very quickly. So instead of buying an expensive watch, a language or dance course would make more sense.
  • Move near your work: Studies show that people suffer when they have to commute long distances every day and kill time in traffic jams.
  • Try to maximize moments of the so-called flow: These are moments in which you completely forget the time and space around you and get absorbed in an occupation. Many experience this feeling while pursuing their hobby. People feel happy meanwhile.


Daniel Kahneman in the SZ Interview:

Dunn, E. W., Gilbert, D. T., & Wilson, T. D. (2011). If money doesn't make you happy, then you probably aren't spending it right. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 21, 115-125.

Steptoe, A., Owen, N., Kunz-Ebrecht, S., & Brydon (2004). Loneliness and neuroendocrine, cardiovascular, and inflamatory stress responses in middle-aged men and women. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 29 (5), 593-611.