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If beauty, fame and money are your top priorities, you’re less likely to be happy

Those who pursue a celebrity influencer’s lifestyle and place a premium on it for their own happiness are, in turn, less likely to be happy, new research has found.

According to Dr Emma Bradshaw, from Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) Institute for Positive Psychology and Education, people who pursue beauty, fame and money above other goals are less happy than those who want to improve the world.

Her findings come from comparing studies with more than 11,000 participants from several countries, including Australia, Hungary and the US.

“I found that people’s goals play an important part in how we feel about our lives. Goals like money, fame and beauty have a negative impact on wellbeing when they take priority over other goals,” Dr Bradshaw said.

“Other goals, like having meaningful relationships and learning, are better at satisfying the human need to grow and experience love and enhance a feeling of wellbeing.

“The study found the happiest people had a desire to make the world a better place. In other words, it seems the less self-obsessed we are, the better off we may be.”

The happiest group did pursue goals like beauty and money, Dr Bradshaw noted, but they were not the top priority.

“It’s all about priorities. We all know the sad stereotype of the beautiful, famous and super wealthy person who is unhappy,” she said.

“Popular culture and celebrity influencers on social media platforms like Instagram place a premium on material goals and beauty.

“But the research demonstrates that focusing on personal growth, close relationships, community giving and physical health goals is more beneficial to your sense of wellness than goals for wealth, fame and image above everything.”

There are three different profiles of aspiration, the research showed: a person who prioritises beauty, fame and money goals and has the lowest wellbeing (profile one), a person who places an emphasis on close relationships and has moderate wellbeing (profile two), and a person who has a high focus on making the world a better place and has the highest wellbeing (profile three).

“The differences between the profiles are thought to illustrate the benefits of increasing one’s integrative span,” Dr Bradshaw said.

“In other words, it seems the wider our scope of concern for others, the better off we may be.”

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