The New Top Ten American Values

An eye-opening study reveals that American adults are looking for happiness in the right places. The Futures Company for American Express surveyed 2,200 Americans over the age of 18 what they regard as success and fulfillment.

The report concluded that "Since the 1980s, America has shifted from a culture that primarily judged success based on external displays of wealth to a society that now places greater weight on less-tangible measures, like life experiences and happiness... Research from 1988 to 2012 shows a substantial decrease in the number of people who believe money is the only real meaningful measure of success, and an even more-substantial increase in those who view life satisfaction as a sign of success."

The respondents ranked the elements of success and fulfillment in this order:

1. Good health (85 percent)


2. Finding time for the important things in life (83 percent)


3. Enjoying a good marriage/relationship (81 percent)

4. Knowing how to spend money well (81 percent)


5. Striking a good work/personal life balance (79 percent)


6. Working at a job you love (75 percent)

Chicago Tribune

7. Making time to pursue your passions and interests (69 percent)

Fab Mar

8. Being physically fit (66 percent)

NY Times

9. Embracing new experiences/changes (65 percent)

Jack Bradley photographs a boy, Harold Whittles, hearing for the first time.

10. Always trying to learn and do new things (65 percent)


The survey also revealed the respondents' top  "Bucket List" activities, which also pointed to American values shifting away from monetary wealth.

1. Traveling (88 percent);

2. Having kids (76 percent);

3. Pursuing passions as a hobby or career (75 percent);

4. Volunteering time for a cause you believe in (70 percent);

5. Doing something with your hands (60 percent).

According to the survey, the key attributes of those who say they are successful are:

- Being open to change (94 percent)

- Finding time for the important things in life (85 percent)

- Enjoying a good marriage/relationship (85 percent)

- Striking a good balance between work and professional life (81 percent)

- Embracing new experiences and changes life throws your way (70 percent)

- Being able to make an impact or difference in people's lives (66 percent)

- Having children (57 percent)

- Giving back to your community/society (56 percent)

- Having a lot of money (27 percent)

According to Philly.comAmerican Express refers to the survey as "The Life Twist Study," for its significant finding:

"There's no straight road to success anymore," explains Melanie Backs, manager of public affairs for American Express. There are a lot of twists and turns that you take along the way. In fact, 95 percent of Americans believe the road to success involves detours and unexpected changes, and that held true across all income levels and all generations, from boomers to millennials."

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