Happiness is… less iPhone, more phone a friend, as a new study shows relationships are the secret to a happy life

Need an excuse to throw a party? It seems friends and family are good for our health

We all know ‘Money can’t buy you love’, but how many of us really believe it? Won’t the latest phone or designer handbag give us a lasting glow?

Well, according to psychologists in Sweden, the answer is no (though we suspect they haven’t seen the latest offerings from Hermès…).

‘It’s relationships that are most important, not material things,’ says co-author Dr Danilo Garcia, a researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy’s Centre for Ethics, Law and Mental Health.

The study looked at Swedish newspapers from 2010, analysing more than 1.5 million words to see which ones most often occurred in the same articles as the word happiness.

The winners were personal pronouns such as ‘you’ and ‘us’, while the more obvious supects, such as ‘iPhone’ and ‘millions’, almost never appeared.

So hold fire before you splash out on that yacht…

‘This doesn’t mean material things make you unhappy,’ says Dr Garcia, ‘just that they don’t seem to come up in the same context as
“happiness”.

‘So if you covet a convertible or dream of jewels, take
comfort from the fact they (probably) won’t make you happy long-term.
Most of us know close, warm relationships matter, but, as Dr Garcia
says, ‘It isn’t certain everyone is aware such relationships are
actually necessary for our own personal happiness.’

So next time you’re considering a spot of shopping or are poised over the Checkout button, call family or arrange to meet a friend instead. It could just be the boost you need.

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