Money Only Buys Happiness If You Use It to Buy Friends
The Chris Peterson who has attempted to "quantify happiness" works at the University of Pennysylvania's Positive Psychology Institute, which sounds like a fictitious job, but is not. He has devised an "Authentic Happiness Inventory" test (registration is required to take it. The Positive Psychology people warn that they "may also occasionally e-mail you with general information on Positive Psychology or opportunities in Positive Psychology." Apparently they don't feel that spam makes people unhappy).
The Authentic Happiness Inventory rates joy on a scale from 1-5. A Pew Research Center survey has found the average American scores a 3.2.
Peterson says the most important factor in happiness is having friends. Making more money, he said, is less important than having friends at the workplace.
The survey also found that there are more unhappy people in big cities, and that married people are usually happier than their single counterparts. People with children are no happier than those without kids.
Whether people answer honestly when asked how happy they are is debateable, and there are many other factors, such as age.
The "Inventory" also asks only about your last week, which isn't necessarily a great indicator of how happy you are with life in general. People do have good weeks and bad weeks.
How to make more people happier, and how to make that a valued social and political goal... that's a mite trickier than this online survey business.
If people in big cities are more likely to be unhappy, maybe everyone in big cities should move. Voila, a happier citizenry!
Only then the small towns would be large, and everyone who had been more likely to be happy would be more likely to be unhappy, as would the people who were originally at an increased risk of unhappiness.
Or there's that friend thing, yes, definitely easier!
Cynthia Fee - Thank You For Being A Friend (a.k.a. The Golden Girls Theme, available on Television's Greatest Hits, Vol.6: Remote Control)
Built To Spill - Happiness (available on Ancient Melodies Of The Future)
Devo - Beautiful World (available on New Traditionalists)
The Divine Comedy - In Pursuit Of Happiness (available on A Secret History)
Camera Obscura - I Need All The Friends I Can Get (available on Let's Get Out Of The Country)
XTC - Earn Enough For Us (available on The Upsy Daisy Assortment)