|Happiness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Scientists may have discovered the secret to avoiding the fiscal cliff: Happiness.
Regardless of whether money can buy happiness, being happy may actually make you more money down the road, new research finds.
People who express more positive emotions as teenagers and greater life satisfaction as young adults tend to have higher incomes by the time they're 29, according to a study published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The difference was so great that when measuring life satisfaction on a 5-point scale, a 1-point jump at age 22 made a $2,000 difference in income down the line. Between the gloomiest and the happiest brackets, that amounts to an $8,000 earnings swing.
Drawing on data from the federally funded Add Health survey of teenagers, the researchers examined the profiles of more than 10,000 Americans at ages 16, 18 and 22 as well as their annual incomes at 29. They controlled for a number of factors known to contribute to financial success, including education level, IQ, height and self-esteem.
Whether smart or simple-minded, tall or short, self-confident or insecure, happier people earned bigger paychecks than more doleful peers: Deeply unhappy teens' future incomes were 30% lower than the average, while very happy teens earned 10% above average.
The research team took the analysis even further, comparing roughly 3,000 people in sibling pairs who shared the same parents and, presumably, the same socioeconomic status. The happier siblings, they found, still did better than their less-happy counterparts.
The findings suggest that interventions to encourage more positive thinking in kids and teens could greatly improve their future success, said Michael Norton, a behavioral scientist at Harvard Business School who was not involved in the study.
To read further, go to: http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-sci-happiness-income-20121120,0,3221658.story