Questioning the Science of Happiness (Infographic)

Monday, January 27, 2014 - 2:46 am

Questioning the Science of Happiness (Infographic)

Happiness. A word that gets bandied about quite a bit lately, and for good reason. As the fields of neuroscience, biology, psychology, and so many others reveal the science behind our brains, we discover more about ourselves. Our moods, our emotions, our behaviors are driven by a mix of environmental factors and genetic predispositions.

The infographic above may not capture the details of the science, but it jogs a host of questions and insights. A few thoughts to chew on:

  • Married people are 10% happier than unmarried people, but having a child reduces happiness by one-quarter of 1% on average. Hmmm… doing the math (tapping finger on temple).
  • Happiness is maximized at, get this, 57 degrees Fahrenheit. Current outside temperature in Minneapolis is -11 degrees Fahrenheit. Do they even do studies measuring people’s happiness at negative temps?
  • If 94% of people in Iceland say they are happy and the warmest day of the year on average is 57 degrees Fahrenheit, does happiness decrease at the same rate when the temperature increases or decreases by one percentage point?
  • I’m writing this up at 2am because I can’t sleep. Would my questions be stated with more positive words if I read this infographic at 2pm?
  • I’m way behind my 100 hours of service in the community. Time to get moving!

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is the cofounder of On Being and currently serves as publisher & editor-in-chief. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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