Presuming that you have hearing loss, what’s most likely to make you happy?
A) Winning the lottery, or
B) Purchasing a new set of hearing aids
It may appear clear to you that the answer is A, but research on happiness tells a very different story.
To start with, people do have a tendency to THINK that outside situations are most likely to make them happy. They routinely mention things like more wealth, better jobs, a brand new car, or winning the lottery.
What numerous studies have found, on the other hand, is surprisingly the opposite. The things that people actually REPORT making them happier are not external or materialistic—they are mostly innate.
The things that make people happiest are high self-esteem, strong social skills, robust relationships, leisure time, volunteering, and humor, as demonstrated 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 may be correct, but research is not necessarily in your favor.
In one routinely referenced study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers interviewed several Illinois state lottery winners and contrasted them with both non-winners and with accident victims that were left paraplegic or quadriplegic.
The interview questions aimed at appraising happiness levels, and the findings demonstrated that lottery winners were about as happy as both non-winners and the accident victims.
The study concluded that individuals are likely to have a preset happiness level. Substantial events like winning the lottery or enduring a debilitating injury cause a temporary surge or drop in happiness—but the individual’s happiness level in both cases will revert to the fixed point.
This is compatible with the “hedonic treadmill” theory, which claims that most people maintain roughly the same levels of happiness throughout life, similar to when you adapt to and increase the speed on the treadmill.
For example, if you secure a job with a higher income, you in all likelihood will be temporarily happier. But once your happiness level reverts to normal, you’ll just desire 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 indicated by social psychologist Dr. Dan Gilbert, 20 years of research into happiness has revealed that the single most significant determinant of happiness is our relationships. He points out that our brains have evolved so that we can be social, and that “friendless people are not happy.”
Which is fantastic 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 feeling of self-confidence in those who use them.
And research tends to give credibility to this view. Numerous studies have confirmed that hearing aid users are satisfied with their hearing aid performance, notice a positive change in their general mood, and achieve improved relationships and social skills.
Consequently, wearing hearing aids promotes all of the things that tend 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.