2014.11.16 Happiness doing your own thing, abroad

As I mentioned in this blog, we don't know if happy people have an easier time building strong connections or if having strong connections makes people happier.

We only know that people with many strong connections generally are happier.

Research has also found that people from cultures that values individual autonomy benefit more from having these connections with friends, while people from more collectivistic cultures gets more support from strong connections with family members.

Theoretically, that could make it harder for people from collectivistic cultures to thrive abroad because it is easier to make new friends that it is to move your whole clan.

Theoretically, it should also be easier to move to a culture that values friendships because then you can make friends with the locals; to become their family member requires a whole different level of buy in.

But getting a new friends network is important for both your happiness and for your health.

Another happiness finding is that self-employed people are happier than people who are employed by others. This applies both in the U.S. according to a PEW study and is found in the European Social Survey.

But we don't really know why. We know it is not because people earn more or work less, because the median income is the same among self and other employed survey participants and if anything the self-employed worked more hours.

But we know that is is not just because the happier people start businesses because studies in both the UK and Switzerland following the same people over many years show an increase in happiness when people start their own thing.

So it is not just an optimistic mindset that secures both happiness and the guts to start a business. Could it be happiness from seeing the product of your own labor? We don't really know.

A totally non scientific sample of entrepreneurs and other self employed people point to satisfaction from not having anybody tell you what to do. So one explanation is the absence of perceived unfavorable work conditions stemming from an organizational power structure.

Not surprisingly, that is also what people most often mention as the reason they might even consider striking out on their own.

Now for the $64.000 question: Happinesswise, does moving to another country to start your own thing make up for the loss of strong connections?

Fortunately, the boost to happiness from being an entrepreneur may make it easier to make new friends. If (happiness => more friends) that is; if the causality points in the opposite direction, tough luck. And in the meanwhile, there is always Skype.