The secret to happiness is these three things 17



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What makes us happy? And we’re not talking about joyful experiences like watching a great movie or buying a pair of shoes that make our feet feel loved, we’re talking about persistent, abiding happiness. That feeling that helps you know that no matter what happens that day, you’ll be okay.

For 15 years, the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index has measured the happiness of Australians and sought to answer the question of what it is we need to feel happiness more than 70 per cent of the time.

The good news is, most Australians are happy around 75 per cent of the time, and that’s great. Researchers believe happy people “self-regulate” their happiness and that feeling good three-quarters of the time keeps everything in balance – after all, as they say, you don’t know you’re happy if you never know sadness.

The key to maintaining this equilibrium lies in three core elements, says Deakin University Emeritus Professor Robert Cummins and  author of the Wellbeing Index.

He believe it comes down to the “‘Golden Triangle of Happiness” – three elements of life that need to be balanced and fulfilled in order to ensure our happiness.

The three core elements are: strong personal relationships, financial control and a sense of purpose.

“No one element is sufficient in isolation. We all must balance the various disparate elements that make up our everyday lives to enable wellbeing, but those who can positively maintain these three aspects of their lives are well on their way,” say the report authors.



Being part of an intimate relationship is perhaps the most vital component of wellbeing. The relationship doesn’t have to be a romantic one, but closeness and support is the key. A good close relationship (or many good relationships) with someone you can share your thoughts, secrets, hopes, dreams and fears with, who will remind you that you are loved and valued, provides a critical resource to defend against life’s challenges. Those who don’t have this intimate relationship are at much higher risk of the difficulties in life overwhelming them.

Financial control

There is no denying that income and wellbeing are linked. Wellbeing rises consistently with household income up to about $100,000, at which point their paths become less intertwined. However, the power of money to affect wellbeing lies in its capacity to alleviate stress and create an environment for happiness. Accordingly, people can achieve normal levels of wellbeing even with low income, so long as they feel in control of how they spend it.

Sense of purpose

It is imperative for personal wellbeing to be doing something that provides meaning in life. People are happier when they are active, particularly when that activity gives them a sense of purpose or responsibility. For some this may be their job, but the job has to provide more than just financial security. For others it may be a social activity such as being in the local tennis club or Rotary. Or it may be volunteering as a lifesaver, caring for someone or doing or something as simple as gardening.

So there you have it, the secret to happiness. How are you doing on these three fronts? Which could you improve on?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I’m very happy in my own skin and although I have never been wealthy I consider myself in control of my finances which I will admit would be nice if I didn’t just have to survive at times, however I’m still very happy.

  2. I think you can decide to be happy with what you have. A few years ago when things did not work out the way we wanted I made the decision not to dwell on why things did not work out. I decided to be happy to be alive.

  3. I think the missing link to me in this good breakdown in the secret to happiness,is,the most important relationship of all, that is,the one you have with Yourself! It certainly is lovely to have strong relationships of loving supportive friends and family,there’s no doubt about that,however,it’s You,you have to get on with,and in the end,it’s You who needs to support and love You! No one can do that for you. If you can truly learn to love yourself,warts and all, through thick and thin,well that is true happiness.

  4. “Strong personal relationships, financial control and a sense of purpose”… Two out of three ain’t bad..

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