what do we know about happiness

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Slides from a seminar which I led — translated to English. Lots of important points are missing... but hey.


  • Happiness what do we know about it?
  • To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost. Gustave Flaubert
  • Smart people against happiness: Schopenhauer Freud Sartre
  • Smart people against happiness: Every happiness is but lent by chance for an uncertain time, and may therefore be demanded back the next hour. Schopenhauer Freud Sartre
  • Smart people against happiness: The intention that man should be happy is not included in the plan of Creation. Schopenhauer Freud Sartre
  • Smart people against happiness: @#%$*$( happiness %^!#@ (^*)!@#!@__*#@!^#!!!! Schopenhauer Freud Sartre
  • Amount of articles in psychology 359,295 magazines from 1887 to 2003: 242,134 93,381 38,349 43,529 23,790 933 4,247 Prophy- Therapy Courage Fear Happiness Depression lactics Good BAD
  • Who needs happiness?
  • They do: Martin Mihaly Daniel Sonja Ed Seligman Csikszentmihalyi Gilbert Lyubomirsky Diener
  • They arepositive psychologists
  • They research happiness (maybe not exactly this way)
  • They research, how happiness links to... Intellect Money Income Love All the rest?
  • For instance: Is it true, that only fools are happy? Source: Lisa Simpson
  • Is this happiness?
  • Actually H A P Theres a mildly P positive correlation I between happiness N E and intelligence. S S INTELLIGENCE Source: Choi and Veenhoven (2008)
  • Is it true that happiness leads to laziness?
  • Actually, happy people are MORE achievement oriented. Source: Lyubomirsky, King, Diener (2005)
  • In companies, where happy people work Customer Personnel Work-related Productivity satisfaction turnover injuries Profits Source: Harter, Schmidt (2002)
  • Happy people earn more: Happy in 1976: Income in 1990: :-( $50,000 :-) $65,000 Source: Diener, 2008
  • Does money bring happiness?
  • To some extent yes Text
  • If everybodys poor theres no difference.
  • The richer the happier
  • Nobody to envy again.
  • The real income increased by 100%, but the happiness level is
  • In the US, as of today: 10 9 8 7.85 Happiness 7 6.38 6 5 level 4 3 2 1 < 10 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 150 > 200 Income, thousand US$ per year Source: Lucas and Schimmack (forthcoming)
  • Money could make you happier, but if they are TOO important for you...
  • Source: Diener and Oishi (2000)
  • If you are concerned with money you are more likely to be unhappy. Source: Diener and Oishi (2000)
  • Happiness is in marriage!
  • Its a popular opinion What makes you happy? 37% 22% 26% 15% Family life Friends Work Income Source: Loewenstein
  • Marriage correlates with happiness 10% Married are happier than single
  • However, there are some nuances Got married Got divorced Source: Diener (2008)
  • Wedding!... The effect lasts for ~ 2 years
  • Children: Small negative impact* *Yes, thats shocking! Source: Gilbert, 2007
  • Exception: women with their first child
  • Friends are more reliable: if you can name 5 or more close friends you are 60% more likely to be very happy. Source: Myers, 1992
  • Good health is essential!
  • Typical emotions of a recovering patient Point of recovery Source: Diener (2008)
  • Gerald is the happiest person I ever met.
  • Older people are happier! Happiness Age Source: BHPS
  • True happiness lies in faith.
  • Percentage of very happy people in the US: 41% 36% 21% 16% Atheists Former believers Believers New believers
  • But this is true only for religious countries. (Also, non-religious Denmark and Netherlands are happier than the US.) Denmark India Nepal Afghanistan
  • So where is it?
  • Factors that affect happiness: Income Employment 10% Family status Genes Health Age 50% Religiousness 40% Hedonic affect Flow Meaning of life Source: Lyubomirsky (2008), consensus estimate
  • Pleasures bring happiness (nothing new)
  • But not the purchases activities! (people adapt easily)
  • Source: Fontane (1996) Start +12% to the exercising: happiness level