Can people be happy without money? The laws of happiness as seen from statistical data

Last year, the animated movie “In This Corner of the World” was an extraordinary hit in Japan. This film is set in Hiroshima and Kure during the Second World War, and depicts the lives of the people living there while suffering the violent fires of war.
This movie has many striking scenes, but the most memorable is the scene where the main character, Suzu, is cooking. During the war, there was little food and people were dividing among their families the tiny amount of brown rice that was dispensed. But in the movie, we see Suzu, with her characteristic cheerfulness, cooking a meal as if she was playing music, and bringing a smile to the faces of her entire family.
When I saw this movie, I was reminded how “people’s happiness is more dependent on the richness in their hearts rather than their material affluence.”

But how about now, in this day and age? We looked at the happiness level of people with a household income less than 2 million yen using the data of a survey of 10,000 Japanese people (Fields Yoka Survey).

The households with an annual income less than 2 million yen take up about 10% of the entire population of Japan. Within this group, 47% responded that they are “very happy/somewhat happy”; on the other hand, 23% responded that they are “very unhappy/somewhat unhappy” (30% responded with “neither happy nor unhappy”). So what is the mentality of the happy people, the 47 percent? Furthermore, when comparing them to the 23% of unhappy people, is there a difference in their values and how they make use of their time?

When comparing the results of the two, a characteristic trend has come to light. First of all, the groups showed similar tendencies regarding their values, but there was a clear difference in regarding behavior.
Where they showed the biggest difference was in human relationships, such as with their families, lovers or friends, and in meals. More than 40% of people who responded that they were happy put a great emphasis on human relations and having meals, whereas only 20% of the people who responded that they were unhappy did the same, from which we can conclude a tendency that does not place much emphasis on these.

Of course, people’s happiness or unhappiness are a result of emotions brought on by various interconnected influences, so we cannot establish a rule for these. Nevertheless, I think that improving the human relationships and the meals we take will improve our state of mind and maybe bring us a little bit closer to happiness.

So to anyone who has been feeling a bit unhappy lately, I invite you to try to increase your opportunities to have a delicious meal with your family and friends.

(Article by: Yasuhiro Takeda)

Fields Research Institute (FRI) conducts research in entertainment.
This article was written by a member of FRI, through the original coverage of his/her interests observed in their daily lives.


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