Researchers identify 'golden triangle' for contented life, but critics say there is no recipe.
Love, money and a rewarding hobby are the so-called keys to happiness.
An Australian study has concluded that people are more likely to be happy when they live in the "golden triangle of happiness".
The research, which analysed 12 years of Australian happiness surveys, said a meaningful relationship, an annual income of $100,000 and participation in a social activity were the most important elements to ensure happiness.
But some New Zealand experts don't accept the findings are the ingredients for lifelong happiness.
Massey University associate professor Dr Grant Duncan, from the School of People, Environment and Planning, said it would be naive to believe there is a recipe for happiness.
"Research finds a correlation between these elements and self-reported happiness. But part of the problem, when people drill into this research, is that they jump to the conclusion that X causes happiness.
"It is simply naive of people to rush out and find friends or get a better job so they will be happier."
Dr Duncan said the research could even make people feel depressed. "I wonder if sometimes it makes people feel worse because they question whether there is something wrong that they are doing or not doing.
"I don't think there is a moral imperative to be happy."
In downtown Auckland yesterday, people offered differing opinions on what they felt were the key ingredients of happiness.
Damian Melhuish said relationships were most important, while Sian Gibbons said she reassessed her perspective of happiness after the Christchurch earthquake.
"We've had to look at this question a lot lately," she said. "We're having to really think about what's happening and is important in this world."