Spending quality time with family members is what makes us happiest, and beats the enjoyment we get working through a bucket list of new experiences or shopping, a new survey reveals today.
According to research carried out by Aston University, even people who have had an unexpected windfall, such as lottery winners, claim extra time they get as a result trumps spending cash or eating at a fancy restaurant any day.
Professor Richard Tunney, from the university’s department of psychology, carried out the research on behalf of The National Lottery. He hosted two surveys; the first was sent to National Lottery winners across the UK who had won more than £1M and the second, an identical survey, was sent to members of the public. The survey asked a series of questions relating to what brings people the most happiness, examining whether experiences were more important than objects.
Professor Tunney said: “Rather surprisingly, the survey showed that when someone receives unexpected money, such as a lottery win, their happiness is increased because of the extra time they get to spend with their family rather than the happiness which is generated just by winning the money.
“Being able to spend quality time with friends and family, providing for family, together with looking after older family members and protecting future generations, is what brings the most happiness.”
Susan and Michael Crossland, from West Yorkshire, who won £1.2M in 2008, said their National Lottery win has enabled them to buy a dream home big enough for all of their family to share.
Susan, from Mirfield, said, “This is what means more to us than anything. Following our win, we were able to move my two sisters and brother who all have special needs, into our home and look after them around the clock. Without our lottery windfall this would never have been possible.”
Experiences may be more important to happiness than buying things but the survey also revealed that people valued being able to learn a new hobby, rather than a one-off bucket list experience.
Ruth and Peter Doyle’s £1M lottery win enabled them to become more actively involved helping rescue Romanian street dogs with the charity 1dogatatimerescue.org.
Ruth, from Lyneham, Wiltshire, said, Since winning we have more time to do the things that really matter to us, whether that’s driving a van full of supplies to Romania or providing a safe and loving foster home here in the UK for dogs looking for their forever home, you could say that fostering Romanian street dogs is now our hobby!”
Professor Tunney said: “Everyone assumes that when you win the lottery you will create a list of 50 out-of-this-world things you must do, such as climb Ben Nevis or swim with sharks. The reality is that creating a bucket list is common for winners, but less important than learning a new hobby.
“Dream holidays are aspirational for everybody and are very important to happiness, but taking time to learn a new skill appears more rewarding than a one-off hit of excitement.”
Some of the more unusual hobbies taken up by National Lottery winners, following their cash windfall, include:
1. Sewing Machine Embroidery
2. Iron man competitions
4. Collecting prosecco corks
5. Fostering Romanian street dogs
6. Scuba Diving
7. Gig Rowing
8. Researching Family History
9. Building houses
10. Travelling to locations they could previously only have dreamt about visiting – and now this is a full-time hobby
Tunney adds; “Being able to treat friends is important to both groups’ happiness and whilst winners are lucky enough to fund group holidays, paying for nights out and the occasional spa day is even more important to the happiness of those who haven’t been lucky enough to win the lottery.”
The Satisfaction with Life (Happiness) Survey sampled 153 National Lottery winners and 168 members of the public.
Average win size of the lottery winner group was £3,008,507 and included people who had won as long ago as 25 years.
"Following our win, we were able to move my two sisters and brother who all have special needs, into our home and look after them around the clock. "