Juggling career, love, hobbies, and family is no easy task, and realistically, everyone is going to make some sacrifices along the way. But the next time you're faced with spending time with your partner or working late, you may want to choose your partner, says a new UK study.
Researchers from the London School of Economics asked 200,000 people around the world about different life events and had them rank their changes in happiness on a scale of 1 to 10. What definitely did not make people happier? Money. While being employed was linked with happiness, how much they earned wasn't. Even a doubling in salary only boosted happiness by the tiniest bit. Apparently, the old saying is true—you can't buy happiness.
So what really lit up people's lives? Being partnered in a good relationship, according to the report. Having a partner raised happiness by nearly a full point while losing a partner reduced happiness by the same amount—showing just what a big impact love has on our life satisfaction. This also makes sense as one of the key contributing factors to depression is loneliness. Connecting with others, even something as simple as hearting a friend's Instagram post, provides an immediate happiness boost, according to a study done earlier this year.
Mental and physical health also played a huge role in happiness. This may seem like a "duh" revelation—who needs science to tell them that better health means a happier life? But knowing something doesn't necessarily mean doing it. To put it in perspective, when you look at all the little choices you make every day, are you really choosing your health and happiness on a regular basis? Picking the chocolate peppermint mocha with whip cream instead of eating a healthy lunch, choosing to binge-watch Netflix instead of hitting the sack early, or opting to work through lunch instead of checking in with your partner (or friends!): These choices may seem like they're making you happy at that moment, but it isn't the kind of happiness that lasts, according to the study. And yes, you can make healthy choices regardless of your relationship status.
This data shows that people need to switch their focus from "wealth creation" to "wellbeing creation," said Richard Layard, Ph.D., a professor at the school and coauthor of the report, to the BBC. Time for a priority check? Making little choices every day to put your relationship first, along with your physical and mental health, is what will ultimately bring you joy. You don't need to give up your dream job for a man but make sure you step away from the computer from time to time too.