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How To Live A Good Life: Research Says It’s Not Always About Happiness

Medically reviewed by January Velasco, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Jul 18, 2022

    How To Live A Good Life: Research Says It’s Not Always About Happiness

    If you ask someone on the street about what they think is the secret to how to live a good life, they’ll probably respond with finding what makes you happy. And it makes a lot of sense, since being happy is something that all of us strive for.

    However, new research found that happiness isn’t always necessary when it comes to living a good life. Researchers found that having a psychologically rich life, and not happiness might be the secret. But what exactly does this mean, and how do we achieve it?

    How to live a good life

    Life isn’t always easy, and our experiences aren’t always happy. Case in point, we’re still currently in a pandemic, and thousands of people are getting infected each day. We’re also under a lockdown, which definitely takes its toll on our psyche.

    On top of the pandemic, we also have other issues and concerns in our own lives. This can include problems at work, problems at home, relationship problems, financial concerns, or even health problems. With all of these things weighing heavy on our minds, the promise of happiness can feel so far away.

    But according to a new paper from the American Psychological Association, happiness isn’t the only thing that gives us a good life. They found that having a psychologically rich life might be the key1.

    What is a psychologically rich life?

    A psychologically rich life is defined as a life that’s full of interesting and perspective-changing experiences2. These experiences may or may not be always happy or desirable, but they make things more interesting. They are characterized by variety, novelty, and interest.

    According to the researchers, living “happy and meaningful” lives can be monotonous. For example, a person can have a good-paying job and enjoy a happy life with their partner and their kids. However, if they keep on doing the same thing each day, it tends to get boring.

    Having a psychologically rich life provides people with various complex experiences that make life more interesting. It also challenges people’s view of the world, and makes people think more curious and interested about the world3. These are experiences that are adventurous, thrilling, or exciting.

    The researchers came to this conclusion after conducting research on respondents from 9 different countries, asking them to write a journal about their ideal life. They found that the respondents mostly wanted a happy and meaningful life, but they also wanted to have interesting and surprising experiences4.

    This means that simply being happy is not enough for them to be satisfied with their lives. They also need psychologically rich experiences in order to say that they have a good life.

    How do you achieve it?

    Since one of the keys on how to live a good life is to have psychologically rich experiences, the next question is how can you have these experiences? After all, we can’t just drop everything and go out on an adventure as we please.

    But even in our daily lives, there are things we can do to improve psychological richness5:

    • Try to do something you’ve never done before. It might be a new hobby or exploring a new interest.
    • Get in touch with people you haven’t talked to in a long time. Ask them how they are, and what they’ve been up to lately.
    • Read books that you might not necessarily be interested in. This challenges your viewpoints and opens up your mind to new ideas.
    • Go out of your comfort zone. If you’re a shy person, try to be a little bit more outgoing and adventurous. Say yes to new experiences, and be ready to feel uncomfortable when faced with new things.

    Learn more about a Healthy Mind here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    January Velasco, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Jul 18, 2022

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