What the Good Life Looks Like for You

We all want to give ourselves and our loved ones the best lives possible. That usually means making big and little decisions every day about money, time, and energy. It's easy to get stuck in your own social bubble and think there's only one way to be happy. The truth is, most people at home and around the world can tell you to ease off on yourself.

An international study just published this week looked at conceptions of the ideal life in nine major locations: Australia, Chile, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Peru, Russia, and the United States. These countries span a variety of cultures and outlooks, and the data came from nearly 2,400 participants. These participants rated a number of personal and societal ideals, including happiness, morality, individual freedom, national security, and self-esteem. If you're a hard-driven perfectionist, the results may surprise you.

"Our research shows that people's sense of perfection is surprisingly modest," said first author Matthew J. Hornsey in a press release. "People wanted to have positive qualities, such as health and happiness, but not to the exclusion of other darker experiences — they wanted about 75 percent of a good thing."

It's important to have drive and ambition. But it's also important to understand what's an external pressure you're succumbing to and what's a lifestyle that will make you truly happy. It's never a bad time to evaluate your own happiness and goals, and to figure out why you're so hungry for them. If you're charting your course because it's truly your own course, that's the most important thing.