UCLA Anderson Professor Rakesh Sarin, who has extensively studied the science of happiness, has come to the conclusion that “happiness is a choice.” Moreover, he’s found that describing happiness mathematically can help people understand how the daily choices they make can play an important role in levels of happiness. Professor Sarin has devised a mathematical unit that measures mood levels called a “happydon,” which allows individuals to rate their moods on a 24-hour “happiness seismograph.” Being able to rate moods allows some people to take active steps to improve their “sum total” well-being.
Here’s one example of how the happiness seismograph works: If you have a headache, you might give it -3 happydons. Making time to relax for an hour, giving you +3 happydons, might be able to counterbalance the headache.
You might not be surprised that Professor Sarin’s research confirms that money doesn’t buy happiness; however, you might be surprised to learn the modest level of income that leads to a peak level of happiness, as measured in happydon units. $75,000 per year! People don’t seem to get any happier when they earn more than that. What do you think about that? Is it simply the absence of financial worry that leads to happiness? With more income, does life just get more complicated, leading to lower levels of happiness? Or do false expectations come into play?
What about Countries & Jobs?
The five happiest countries, according to the Gallup World Poll, are Denmark, Finland, Norway, The Netherlands, and Canada.
And is there such a thing as a happy job? The three “most happy jobs,” according to the General Social Survey (National Organization of Research, University of Chicago), are clergy, firefighter, and physical therapist. The three “least happy jobs”? Director of Information Technology, Director of Sales and Marketing, and Product Manager. Of my gosh: I know three recent college graduates who are seeking jobs in those three “least happy” fields. Would they reconsider their career paths if they knew this?
If you want to learn more, you might like to take a look at the book that Professor Sarin has co-authored with Manuel Baucells titled Engineering Happiness: A New Approach for Building a Joyful Life. Included in the book are the Six Laws of Happiness. Law #1 explains that while it is easy to compare ourselves to colleagues, this can logically lead to unhappy feelings. Interestingly, if we learn to admire others’ success, Professor Sarin has found that individuals are likely to feel pretty good.