What makes people happy? Friends, sex, and short work commutes
Last week, the United Nations unveiled the first-ever "World Happiness Report," which pegged Northern European countries, including Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Iceland, as among the happiest in the world. While money can certainly buy you happiness (to an extent), the report also examined other ways people get a boost, such as enjoying time with friends and having a healthy body
The report reviewed several decades of research on happiness, with the focus on the link between economic growth and happiness. While the results found that richer countries are happier than poorer ones, individual wealth bolsters happiness only in a limited way. “Other things matter more: community trust, mental and physical health, and the quality of governance and rule of law,” stated the report.
In addition to measuring an individual’s overall evaluation of life, the report also looked at day-to-day joys, dubbed "affective happiness." Feel-good boosters included time with friends and family and regular sex, while downsides were long work commutes and meetings with bosses.
How to be happier? If you can’t relocate to a Scandinavian country, one approach is to make a conscious choice to boost your happiness, writes WebMD. Make a decision to be happy, and stick with it.
"Choose to take advantage of opportunities to learn how to be happy,” Tom G. Stevens, PhD, author of You Can Choose to Be Happy, told WebMD. “For example, reprogram your beliefs and values. Learn good self-management skills, good interpersonal skills, and good career-related skills. Choose to be in environments and around people that increase your probability of happiness.”
Gretchen Rubin, best-selling author of The Happiness Project, recommends rather than “jumping in with lengthy daily meditation or answering deep questions of self-identity” to seek happiness, start with the basics, like going to sleep at a decent hour and going long stretches of time without eating, she wrote in Real Simple magazine.