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Tags: What is Real Wellbeing? AUWI20 Wellbeing Index

“You’ll probably get more of a positive hit on your wellbeing if you put an extra 10 percent effort into your relationships.”—Associate Professor Delyse Hutchinson.

Key points

  • There are three domains of wellbeing that are particularly dominant in helping people feel positive about everyday life.
  • These are personal relationships, standard of living, and achieving in life.
  • However, research has shown the one factor that makes the greatest contribution to personal wellbeing is our social connections.

When it comes to our personal wellbeing—a concept that embodies how satisfied we are with our lives—we each have our own specific set of needs, experiences and attitudes that affect just how content we really are.

But while all seven domains of wellbeing can affect the “me” in wellbeing, there are three domains that are particularly dominant in helping people feel positive about everyday life. These are known as the “golden triangle of happiness”.

Older woman sitting on her couch

The golden triangle of happiness

The three points of this golden triangle are the domains that tend to have the greatest impact on our overall wellbeing levels: personal relationships, our standard of living (finances), and achieving in life (a sense of purpose).

As Associate Professor Delyse Hutchinson, the lead researcher of the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index at Deakin University explains, “We have found over many years of research that, in Australia, these three have more of an impact on our wellbeing than the other domains. And, if you can work on those, you’ll often see a bigger increase in people’s wellbeing.”

Golden triangle of happiness

Why relationships come first

Given we live in a relatively safe society, our wellbeing is enhanced by having enough money and capacity to live and enjoy our life, and by engaging in activities that provide us with a sense of meaning and purpose—whether that’s your career, hobbies, or something else that’s important to you.

However, as Delyse points out, the one factor that makes the greatest contribution to personal wellbeing is our social connections. “Good relationships go a long way,” she says.

“You may be putting an extra 10 percent of your time into earning more income, but you’ll probably get more of a positive hit on your wellbeing if you put an extra 10 percent effort into your relationships instead.”

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