From an Interview with Jonathan Rauch, Author of The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50:
RealClearBooks: In “The Happiness Curve,” you write that crises such as unemployment, divorce, disease take their toll on human beings — which is intuitive — and cite research that puts a price take on it ($60,000 a year for losing your job; $100,00 for a painful divorce). Absent those kind of traumas, what’s the single biggest determinant of happiness in adults?
Jonathan Rauch: Positive, trusting social connection. Hands down. Being in supportive, trusting, and loving relationships is more important than wealth, health, and status. In fact, investing in wealth and status just makes us hungrier for more of the same (what researchers call the hedonic treadmill). Investing in core relationships and giving back to others provides lasting satisfaction that grows over time.