Is self-control the key to happiness? Apparently so in Australia, says Bernard Salt, a KPMG partner and demographer based in Melbourne. Salt was part of a recent KPMG in Australia survey of more than 2,000 Australians to determine lifestyle trends such as credit card use, vacation habits and more. Many interesting points emerged, including the fact that those with children eat out less, Australians vacation on average three times a year, and baby boomers are the heaviest credit card users.
The conclusion to the survey? That happiness comes with self-discipline. “What makes people happy later in life is the ability to make the right choices: in cultivating strong relationships, in having the ability to manage debt, to build strong friendships, to maintain a balanced approach to exercise and weight control,” Salt said. “Manage these things and you are set for a happy life in Australia.” After reading that, I got in touch with Salt to find out more.
Q: How does self-discipline lead to happiness?
A: The common denominators between people who were unhappy largely with their relationships were that they were concerned about their weight, their indebtedness and lack of friends. These factors are all within individual control. Unhappiness is not being imposed from without; it derives from within. You have control over your weight, your financial affairs, your friendship circle. If you have self discipline, then these factors that correlate with unhappiness can be managed.
Q: In your report, the group that was the least happiest were those between the ages of 45-49. Why?
A: I suspect this is because at this time the relationship is tired (say 20 years old), there are teenagers in the house (need I say more!), there may be frustration at work (not getting to where you thought you might get to), and there are undoubtedly financial pressures: a mortgage and concern that retirement savings are not building. Plus by the late 40s, there is a realisation that youth has departed! Not a happy time!
Q: What was the happiest group and why?
A: The 18- to 24-year-olds are blissfully happy in their relationships because they are bright eyed and bushy tailed and see endless possibilities without the burden of responsibility. Enjoy the moment, Gen Y.
Q: What can readers take from this to apply to their own lives?
A: Happiness is not about money or an absence of mean people. It’s about managing our life and being responsible for your own actions.
Want more happiness news? Follow me on Twitter @AstridVanDenB