A recent forum/blog post by Wharton marketing professor Cassie Mogilner outlines groundbreaking research regarding how our perception of happiness changes as we age. Dr. Mogilner and her co-researchers basic findings are that when we are young excitement = happiness and the older we get the more calmness = happiness. Both desired results of either excitement or calmness are based on one central aspect: time. How we spend our time is the greatest determinant of our happiness. Not the amount of money or things we have.
With both happiness factors, if time is spent creating and building personal relationships our happiness level increases. While there are many types of personalities, with some more outgoing than others – most people want to feel involved, connected, and appreciated. Developing positive relationships with other people helps us realize those emotional needs.
Also, some of the interesting counterintuitive research points out that the more stressed or time constrained we feel can be solved as we give our time to others, as we give of ourselves and our time the less stressed we end up feeling. The more we serve and volunteer our time, the more time it feels that we have.