Sunday, December 7, 2008

Not to go all Jeremy Bentham on you...

... but happiness is clearly a big part of the human condition. It drives our actions. It shapes the way we view the world. And it's almost impossible to quantify.

However! Scientists need things to study, and this particular bunch decided to study happiness. And it turns out, they say, that other factors aside, other people's happiness is what makes us happy. Hi, there's an Aristotle on Line 1... he's shouting something about a Prime Mover.

Scientists say this happy face is living a lie.

Ahem, anyway... as reported in the Chicago Tribune (and check out the killer headline that ran in the newspaper, if you can. Whoever wrote it is an undeniable savant.),

"We've known for some time that social relationships are the best predictor of human happiness, and this paper shows that the effect is much more powerful than anyone realized," said Daniel Gilbert, author of "Stumbling on Happiness" and a professor of psychology at Harvard University.
And here's a look at exactly how much your relationships affect your happiness:

"If a social contact is happy, it increases the likelihood that you are happy by 15 percent," James Fowler said. "A friend of a friend, or the friend of a spouse or a sibling, if they are happy, increases your chances by 10 percent," he added.

A happy third-degree friend -- the friend or a friend of a friend -- increases a person's chances of being happy by 6 percent.

"But every extra unhappy friend increases the likelihood that you'll be unhappy by 7 percent," Fowler said.

Now you can calculate exactly how much value your friends and family bring to your life. If that's the sort of thing that makes you happy.


Anonymous said...

I've always suspected as much. I believe also that friends of one's children affect one's happiness. Did the author mention this?


M. Gants v4.0 said...

That made me happy. Thank you. Nice pic too :)