Striving for beauty and money above all else linked to less happiness: new research

People who pursue beauty, fame and money above other goals are less happy than those who want to improve the world, new research has found.

The research was conducted by Dr Emma Bradshaw at Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) Institute for Positive Psychology and Education.

Dr Bradshaw compared studies with more than 11,000 participants from several countries including, Australia, Hungary and the United States.

She said, “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.”

“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.”

Dr Bradshaw said the happiest group did pursue goals like beauty and money 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.”

The study found three different profiles of aspiration:

Profile 1:

This person prioritises beauty, fame and money goals and has the lowest wellbeing.

Profile 2:

This person places an emphasis on close relationships and has moderate wellbeing.

Profile 3:

This person has a high focus on making the world a better place and has the highest well-being.

“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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