The Factors Involved in the Sense of Subjective Wellbeing (A Survey of 250 Subjects)

Ashkan Farhadi, Sohrab Mobarhan


Background: There is little question that a close relationship exists between level of happiness, mental health, andoverall success. The prioritization and order of life’s most important qualities significantly varies among individuals.In this study, we investigated what is regarded as the most important aspect of life and what things make peoplehappy.Method: We asked two questions in a short survey: “What is the most important thing in life?” and “What makesyou the happiest?” We recruited study subjects from Orange County, California and from a rural community inPanama during a medical missionary visit. The 253 adult individuals in this study were asked to rank the providedchoices from 1 to 5 based on their perceived importance.Result: 65% of the participants were female. Family was by far the most important aspect of life among all groupsand individuals (59% selected this as the first choice). This was followed by health (14%) and faith (13%). Familyranked significantly higher among females compared to males. Health was much more appreciated and ranked higherin older adults than in other age groups. The top three things that make people happy were the need to be loved,having someone to love, and a sense of financial security. When comparing data from an affluent region in US to arural sample from Panama, we did not find any significant differences in the importance of aspects in life or in thingsthat make people happy.Conclusion: In this preliminary study, we found that there is little difference in the things people regard as the mostimportant thing in life and the things that make them happy among different age groups or gender. In addition,despite thousands of miles of geographical separation and a very wide socioeconomic and educational gap betweenthe two population groups in our study, there was no significant difference between what people regard as the mostimportant thing in life and the things that make them happy.

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