Presuming that you have hearing loss, what’s more likely to make you happy?
A) Winning the lottery, or
B) Purchasing a new pair of hearing aids
It may sound obvious to you that the answer is A, but research on happiness conveys a very different story.
To start with, many people do have a tendency to THINK that outward scenarios are most likely to make them happy. They routinely cite things like more wealth, better jobs, a new car, or winning the lottery.
What numerous studies have found, on the other hand, is incredibly the opposite. The things that people genuinely REPORT making them happier are not external or materialistic—they are mostly innate.
The things that make people happiest are high self-worth, strong social skills, robust relationships, leisure time, volunteering, and humor, as presented in the Stanford University video We Don’t Know What Makes Us Happy (But We Think We Do).
Winning the Lottery and the Hedonic Treadmill
If you answered that winning the lottery would make you happier, you might be right, but research is not necessarily in your favor.
In one regularly referenced study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers surveyed numerous Illinois state lottery winners and compared them with both non-winners and with accident victims that were left paraplegic or quadriplegic.
The interview questions focused on determining happiness levels, and the findings showed that lottery winners were roughly just as happy as both non-winners and the accident victims.
The study concluded that people tend to have a fixed happiness level. Substantial events like winning the lottery or enduring a debilitating injury cause a temporary increase or drop in happiness—but the person’s happiness level in both instances will return to the fixed point.
This is compatible with the “hedonic treadmill” theory, which states that most people maintain approximately the same levels of happiness throughout life, similar to when you adapt to and increase the speed on the treadmill.
For instance, if you land a job with a larger income, you almost certainly will be temporarily happier. But once your happiness level reverts to average, you’ll just want a job with even higher income, ad infinitum.
Buying Happiness with Hearing Aids
If you answered that using hearing aids would make you happier, your answer is most consistent with the research.
As reported by social psychologist Dr. Dan Gilbert, 20 years of research into happiness has uncovered that the single most vital determiner of happiness is our relationships. He explains that our brains have evolved so that we can be social, and that “friendless people are not happy.”
Which is excellent news for hearing aid users.
Because the foundation of any healthy relationship is communication, and communication is contingent on healthy hearing, hearing aids enhance relationships and a sense of self-confidence in those who wear them.
And research tends to support this view. Numerous studies have confirmed that hearing aid users are satisfied with their hearing aid performance, feel a positive change in their general mood, and achieve improved relationships and social skills.
As a result, wearing hearing aids produces all of the things that have been found to make us happier, while winning the lottery provides more money, which at best will only make us temporarily happier. So the next time you head out to buy lottery tickets, you may want to stop by the local hearing specialist instead.