It’s a question we all ask ourselves: what makes a life fulfilling and successful? American scientists from the Pew Research Center, based in Washington, studied a representative sample of Americans to find out. And the answer is not what you think! Explanations from Audrey Brun, systemic psychologist.
What gives life this fulfilling character? Is it the fact of having been married? To have had children? A precious friend? A sample of Americans was asked to answer the question by choosing among getting married, having children, close friends, a job they enjoyed or having a lot of money.
Having a lot of money comes… last!
Contrary to what one might believe, having a lot of money was not the first criterion put forward by those surveyed. On the contrary, the answer comes in penultimate position, with only 24% of respondents thinking that being rich allows you to have a fulfilling life. Same story for marriage, which comes last, with 23% of respondents considering it essential. “There are several ways to live as a couple, so marriage is not necessarily the most important in what we expect from life and from life as a couple.” analyse Audrey Brun.
Close friends and work top responses
On the other hand, and this may surprise some, having a job that you enjoy is the key to a successful life, for 71% of respondents. “People need to have meaning in their lives, we see this when people have successful careers, but who lack meaning, utility: they are less successful at work” adds the psychologist. “Good connections with colleagues are important and this ties in with the importance of friendship“.
Indeed, close friends come just behind work, with 61% of respondents considering them important in this quest. “Laughing and sharing with friends brings a feeling of well-being and life satisfaction. It’s linked to the fact that people need this feeling, and moments of relaxation, of sharing, allow them to detach themselves from the ambient catastrophism.” she also indicates.
Good in his body, good in his head!
Having children, a barrier for some people
Finally, having children only appears to be part of a fulfilling life for 26% of those questioned. “People are becoming aware of climate change and difficulties and this represents an obstacle to having children. They are more concerned about what they can leave them, it is both a mark of individualism but also a more in solidarity with the world” concludes Audrey Brun.