How Satisfied Are You With Your Life?

by Miranda Marquit · 0 comments

What makes you happy with your life? How do the individual aspects of your life combine to provide you with overall satisfaction in your life?

Life satisfaction is the subject of the annual Better Life Index, which looks at the factors contributing to general happiness and contentment. The Better Life Index ranks the 35 countries as members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD (plus key partners Brazil, Russia, and South Africa) according to life satisfaction centered around 11 topics of well-being.

Once again, the United States is nowhere close to the top, but it did crack the top 10. This year, though, there was a little bit of a difference. Norway takes the top spot, with Australia and Iceland rounding out the top three.

What Makes These Countries So Satisfied?

In order to determine which countries are at the top of the list, the Better Life Index takes a look at different factors and how satisfied residents of various countries are with each of the factors. The factors include:

  • Housing
  • Income
  • Jobs
  • Community
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Civic Engagement
  • Health
  • Safety
  • Work-Life Balance

All of these factors are combined and the countries that score the highest in the various areas are ranked closer to the top.

One of the interesting takeaways is the fact that countries with low unemployment rates tend to be higher on the list. This makes sense. What may not make as much sense is the fact that higher-income doesn’t automatically mean a higher score. Otherwise, the United States with its high marks on income will rank much higher on the list.

If you visit the Better Life Index website, you can adjust the factors, weighing them according to what’s most important to you. For example, you can see how having a job impacts other factors associated with the index – particularly income. With the adjustments, you can see which country more closely aligns with your own situation. After making my adjustments, I found that Norway and Canada more closely resemble my idea of life satisfaction.

Creating the Lifestyle You Want

It’s up to you to decide what’s most important in your life. Personally, I think the work-life balance is more important than income. I’d rather make a little less money than be working all the time at a job I don’t enjoy. Plus, I already spent the past two decades making a relatively higher income in the United States. I would get a leg up in the spending department in another country because I already built a solid nest egg.

I also place a high value on education and health. Living in a community of about 100,000 appeals to me, since I can access community and civic opportunities without getting lost in the crowd. Additionally, I like living in a university town, since it brings educational and cultural opportunities that might not be otherwise available in a town this size.

From whether you prefer to live in a subdivision or an urban environment or on a couple of rural acres to the kinds of activities you enjoy, think about what makes your life tick. If you aren’t satisfied with your life, take some time to think about why that is and consider what you can do to make changes so that your life more closely resembles your ideal.

Plan for the Lifestyle You Want

Planning for the lifestyle I want is exactly what I’ve been doing over the last few years. While I haven’t gone as far as to contemplate moving to a different country, I’ve been trying to really figure out what needs to happen for me to live my preferred lifestyle. It’s been an interesting experiment, and it’s also involved a bit of trial and error (I’m in the midst of one trial right now).

When you’re trying to figure out what to do with your life, it’s a good idea to take a look at what you want first and decide what’s important to you. Only then can you figure out how to use your money to make that happen.

What Do You Want Your Life to Look Like?

The first step is to figure out what you want your life to look like. What do you enjoy the most? Do you like being with family? Do you enjoy good food? Do you want to be able to travel? Take a step back and decide how you want your life to look so that you have something to work toward.

I decided that I didn’t really care for living in a home. When my then-husband got a job across the country, it was a good time to decide to sell the house and give something else a try. We moved to an apartment, and it was a nice, large apartment that we enjoyed. I liked that I didn’t have to worry about taking care of the yard or being in charge of repairs when something breaks down.

I liked this renting thing, but I didn’t like living on the third floor of an apartment building with no elevator. I’ve been renting since and I couldn’t be happier.

Other items in my life are a little more straightforward and helpful. For instance, I like to be able to travel. This is something that I’ve made a priority for the last few years until the pandemic put a wrinkle in my plans. Still, my son and I enjoy going on trips together and we’ve moved our trips outdoors. I also make it a point to attend work conferences and plan to restart the habit once more conferences are being organized.

There are other lifestyle realities that we have. We like eating out and we don’t mind paying for conveniences in our life. We want a secure retirement and we are building up alternative sources of income. These are things that we plan for.

But before we had decided what we wanted from our lifestyle, we weren’t nearly as focused and our finances were much messier. When you know what you want, it’s possible to plan for that. The fact that we have a 15-year-old 32-inch TV doesn’t really bother us because it’s not a priority for our preferred lifestyle.

Take a look at what you want your life to look like and then figure out what needs to happen with your money to get you to that point. When you take the time to plan your money so you can live your preferred lifestyle, your choices are a little easier, and your life and finances are more fulfilling.

Bottom Line

In the end, life satisfaction is about priorities, and whether or not you can adequately meet them. Consider the factors above and how they intersect in your life. Then, figure out what you can do to increase the presence of the most important items.

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