How Happy Are you? How Happy Were You?

Is this you...

Is this you?

...or is this you?

…or is this you?

Hello, everyone:

I’m doing some research for an upcoming blog entry on happiness (the long-term, sustained kind…not the OMG I just won the lottery type), and I thought I might try to do a very unscientific survey on happiness levels. If 10 is jumping-off-the-walls happiness and 1 is can’t-get-out-of-bed-seriously-depressed unhappiness, how would you rate your happiness level now? How would you rate it 10 years ago? 

Also, do you believe in the “set-point” theory of happiness which stipulates that we’re all born with an innate happiness set point — and although it may vary as a result of positive (winning the lottery, birth of child, promotion) and negative (having an accident, losing a family member, losing a job) events we tend to gravitate toward our innate happiness set-point after the novelty of the positive/negative event has worn off? Or is it possible to become a significantly happier person over time? If so, how do you become happier? 

Any comments, answers, explanations and thoughts would be highly appreciated!

Categories: Random

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20 replies

  1. I think I’m a 5. I can be the happiest person in the room, the jumping-off-the-walls kind. But everybody has their bad days, and so do I. So a 5 for me.
    As for the set-point theory, I never really thought about it that much. I guess it does make sense, but I also believe that it is very much possible to become a happier person over time.

  2. I’m not sure I believe in the set-point theory, unless you suffer from a mood disorder. As a kid, my mood was always blank. I’d say I’m much happier now, and when my health is good, there’s no comparison. It’s too hard to separate environmental factors, in my opinion, to know what’s really innate.

    Now, I’d give myself a 5. Ten years ago, I was a 7.

  3. Happiness is such a complex concept to measure, economists keep trying but I think each person is really unique in what makes them happy – though there are the basic things that contribute – health, love, family, feeling productive and valued, learning new things, etc. But I think there is an innate factor as well, for example some people can apparently “have it all” but are depressed or become addicted to drugs. I feel lucky because I tend to be a person who sees the cup half full. However, I am also driven to try to keep improving myself which brings a lot of satisfaction sometimes and frustration other times when I feel stuck.

    • I agree…I think that every person views their own happiness differently. For me, I think that the single biggest thing that has made me a happier person is an ability to see/enjoy the small things/details rather than focus solely on the big picture.

  4. I would have to submit an answer on a daily basis (or even hourly!) If you average it all out, maybe I’d have a 7, but it’s hard to know, and what does it signify anyway? I can be ecstatic or depths of despair. I’m probably happier now than 10 years ago because I’m not working, so more my own boss (within limits). But I can also be extremely discontented, and yes, I think that is probably down to my nature.

  5. Just found your blog and looking forward to sharing my input!

    Ten years ago I’d day it was a 3-4 because I was in high school and about to leave all my friends – so dramatic!

    Today I’d say 7. I stay pretty consistent on the happiness train and look forward to friendly visitors every now and again.

  6. Hey,
    I’m actually doing some research on hedonic adaptation using Australian data. I’m trying to figure out whether people return to their pre-event happiness and how long it takes them to do so. Also, I’m investigating whether a negative impact takes longer to get over than adjusting back from a positive one.
    Personally, I think I have stayed at about the same happiness level. Thinking some purchases or achievements would make me happier in the long run has obviously been the case, but I find myself returning to my pre-event level pretty quickly…

    • I’ve been doing a bit of research on the topic myself and I do think that we constantly re- calibrate happiness. For me , happiness comes in levels. I’d say I’m at a higher “level” of happiness than I was ten years ago (I know myself better, less anxiety, more relativistic thinking, less all or nothing thinking, etc) but I’d say that my overall moment to moment feeling of happiness hasn’t changed all that much. I’ll have these small or large “breakthroughs” or moments of enlightenment, satisfaction or even pure joy, but once things become familiar again, I find myself returning to my regular levels of happiness.


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