Sunday, 30 June 2013

What Makes Us Happy

A global survey is being carried out (see details here on the BBC website http://www.bbc.co.uk/magazine-23097143)  and collated by the World Happiness Data Center in Rotterdam.  The World Happiness Data Center?  Now that sounds intriguing.  And you thought you whistled that happy tune because you were, well, just plain happy.  And how do you convert all that data into world happiness? And is everyone happy about the same things?  As far as the last question goes, it appears we are all happy about different things. And happiness changes.  Well, I guess that doesn't come as a surprise.  Kissing Elvis wouldn't make me as happy now as it would have fifty years ago!  And here's a nice bit of statistics:  the older you get the more content you get.  You know your heart is not broken when a relationship breaks up. You know the world isn't going to stop because you wore the wrong dress/hairstyle/lipstick to that party or have a spot on your face before your dream date turns up.

So, what else did the survey discover?  It discovered that the main correlation for being happy was leading an active life. Finding a meaning as to the why are we here and what should we do about it does not correlate to happiness. It seems if you get your butt off the couch and get out there and mix with the world you are going to be happier than the philosopher who sits at home puzzling profound life secrets.

The study indicates that being involved in politics makes you happy - who'd have thought all that back-stabbing and mind games we hear about is actually conducive to your happiness? Going out to dinner is another factor in being happy.  And people who drink in moderation are happier than people who don't drink at all.  So we can enjoy a glass or two of wine with that dinner, safe in the knowledge it's good for our happiness barometer.

Here's one for the battle of the sexes:  men are happier if they think they are goodlooking whereas if you (men and women) think you're goodlooking it increases your sense of wellbeing whether you are or not (objectively speaking).

It's a fascinating study and is ongoing.  People are encouraged to keep a diary and submit it online to the survey.  Abraham Lincoln once said "most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."  I think that sums it up.

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