Research: Good sex more important than successful career

By • Mar 25th, 2010 • Category: For Couples

In a very interesting article in the New York Times entitled The Sandra Bullock Trade, columnist David Brooks wonders whether you would exchange a career triumph for a personal blow. In other words, would you rather have, like Sandra Bullock, an Academy Award and a cheating husband, or an average career and marriage bliss?

According to Brooks, the question is relatively easy to answer. Recent research indicates that: “Marital happiness is far more important than anything else in determining personal well-being. If you have a successful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many professional setbacks you endure, you will be reasonably happy. If you have an unsuccessful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many career triumphs you record, you will remain significantly unfulfilled.” Further, Brooks states, “worldly success has shallow roots while interpersonal bonds permeate through and through.”

Here are some more key conclusions from happiness research:

  • If you are very poor, you will become happier as you grow more middle class. However, once your necessities are taken care of, additional income is weakly correlated to additional happiness.
  • America is much richer now than 50 years ago, but not happier. Perhaps affecting happiness is that America is also much more unequal than before.
  • Winning the lottery does not produce lasting gains in happiness; neither do promotions.
  • People are more happy in their 20s and happiest after retirement, but score lower in happiness during their middle aged years.
  • Daily activities most contributing to happiness are sex, socializing after work, and having dinner with others.
  • Daily activity most harmful to happiness is commuting
  • Joining a group that meets even just once a month brings as much happiness as a doubling of income
  • Being happily married brings a joyful gain equivalent to earning more than $100,000/year
  • Countries with high social trust have happier people, better health, more efficient government, more economic growth, and less fear of crime.

Overall, it is clear that the quality of one’s relationships is far more important than any material possession or success. According to the article, there are two conclusions to be drawn from this research:

  1. “Economic and professional success exists on the surface of life, and that they emerge out of interpersonal relationships, which are much deeper and more important.” and
  2. “Most of us pay attention to the wrong things- most people vastly overestimate the extent to which more money would improve our lives.”

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