How do you measure happiness?

Why Finland And Denmark Are Happier Than The U.S.
January 9, 2020
CNBC Make It

How Much Money Do You Need To Earn To Be Happy?
May 26, 2020
CNBC Make It


The Merchant of Just Be Happy

The Merchant of Just Be Happy
DEC. 28, 2013

International Coach Federation

“Everything I’ve ever taught in terms of self-help boils down to this — if something feels really good for you, you might want to do it. And if it feels really horrible, you might want to consider not doing it. Thank you, give me my $150.”

Coaching includes two broad categories. There are executive and leadership coaches — they train people to be better at business — and life coaches, like Ms. Beck, who talk about leadership in one’s own life, from the home to the office and everywhere in between. There is often tension between the two, with executive coaches tending to disdain the sometimes exuberant spiritual sides of life coaches.

The idea that we should be better — more effective, more efficient, happier — is a vein that runs deep in American culture, from Norman Vincent Peale to Tony Robbins

Happiness: Giving, Relating, Exercising


The Ten Keys to Happier Living
Vanessa King of Action for Happiness
Apr 1, 2016

2:12 Having a sense of control in our lives is an absolutely fundamental ingredient in happiness.
[related: ]

mindful awareness

17:20 It’s a menu, it’s not a prescription.
What works for each of us is different. And we need different things at different times.


Are your happiness goals too high?

Are your happiness goals too high?
James Baraz | January 17, 2017

Although I’m all for enjoying peak experiences when they arise, measuring that ideal against a moderate level of okayness can easily render this moment as “not good enough.”

Rick Hanson says: “The brain is like Teflon for positive experiences and Velcro for negative ones.”

Sonja Lyubomirsky: Finding the Right Fit

Misconceptions about Happiness
September 2014
Greater Good Science Center

Happiness comes from a lot of different things.
For different people, different practices, different pieces of knowledge
are going to contribute more impactful or less impactful ways. This is an idea that
Sonja Lyubormirsky from UC Riverside calls fit.

The Science of Happiness
Berkeley University of California


Sonja Lyubomirsky: Finding the Right Fit
Greater Good Science Center
July 2010

The riddle of experience vs. memory

Daniel Kahneman: The riddle of experience vs. memory
Using examples from vacations to colonoscopies, Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman reveals how our “experiencing selves” and our “remembering selves” perceive happiness differently.


14:20 What controls satisfaction:
– money
– goals
– spending time with people we like

Humans find learning pleasurable

humans and other primates find learning and mastery deeply, even biologically, pleasurable under the right conditions, though often not the ones they face in school.[13]
p. 24

13. Deborah Blum, Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection (Cambridge, MA: Perseus,

Gee, James Paul. “Learning and Games.


Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection
N Engl J Med 2003; 348:670-671February 13, 2003
Harlow showed that monkeys could learn to disassemble a complex puzzle without the reward of food as easily as they could with the reward — a result inconsistent with the commonly assumed primacy of drive reduction in learning.

‘Love at Goon Park’: The Science of Love
February 2, 2003
The phrase ”contact comfort” was made famous through Harry Harlow’s experiments with baby rhesus monkeys at the University of Wisconsin in the 1950’s and 60’s.

He has a heart of gold

Dan Gilbert: The surprising science of happiness
February 2004 at TED2004

8:30 synthetic happiness

The psychological immune system works best when we are totally stuck, when we are trapped. This is the difference between dating and marriage. You go out on a date with a guy, and he picks his nose; you don’t go out on another date. You’re married to a guy and he picks his nose? He has a heart of gold. Don’t touch the fruitcake!
You find a way to be happy with what’s happened.

We should have preferences that lead us into one future over another. But when those preferences drive us too hard and too fast because we have overrated the difference between these futures, we are at risk.
When our ambition is bounded, it leads us to work joyfully. When our ambition is unbounded, it leads us to lie, to cheat, to steal, to hurt others, to sacrifice things of real value.
When our fears are bounded, we’re prudent, we’re cautious, we’re thoughtful. When our fears are unbounded and overblown, we’re reckless, and we’re cowardly.


The way we’re working isn’t working: Tony Schwartz at TEDxMidwest  
TEDx Talks
June 26, 2012

The Science of Happiness: What Your Mother Didn’t Tell You
Prof. Dan Gilbert
PresidentialConf, 2013

How’s Life at Home?

How’s Life at Home? New Evidence on Marriage and the Set Point for Happiness
John F. Helliwell, Shawn Grover
NBER Working Paper No. 20794
December 2014

Subjective well-being research has often found that marriage is positively correlated with well-being. Some have argued that this correlation may be result of happier people being more likely to marry. Others have presented evidence suggesting that the well-being benefits of marriage are short-lasting. Using data from the British Household Panel Survey, we control individual pre-marital well-being levels and find that the married are still more satisfied, suggesting a causal effect, even after full allowance is made for selection effects. Using new data from the United Kingdom’s Annual Population Survey, we find that the married have a less deep U-shape in life satisfaction across age groups than do the unmarried, indicating that marriage may help ease the causes of the mid-life dip in life satisfaction and that the benefits of marriage are unlikely to be short-lived. We explore friendship as a mechanism which could help explain a causal relationship between marriage and life satisfaction, and find that well-being effects of marriage are about twice as large for those whose spouse is also their best friend.

journalistic version:

Equation to predict happiness

Equation to predict happiness
5 August 2014

The model was then tested on 18,420 participants in the game ‘What makes me happy?’ in a smartphone app developed at UCL called ‘The Great Brain Experiment’ (
Scientists were surprised to find that the same equation could be used to predict how happy subjects would be while they played the smartphone game, even though subjects could win only points and not money.

how important expectations are in determining happiness. In real-world situations, the rewards associated with life decisions such as starting a new job or getting married are often not realized for a long time, and our results suggest expectations related to these decisions, good and bad, have a big effect on happiness.

It is often said that you will be happier if your expectations are lower.
We find that there is some truth to this: lower expectations make it more likely that an outcome will exceed those expectations and have a positive impact on happiness.
However, expectations also affect happiness even before we learn the outcome of a decision.
If you have plans to meet a friend at your favorite restaurant, those positive expectations may increase your happiness as soon as you make the plan.

original paper:
A computational and neural model of momentary subjective well-being
PNAS August 19, 2014   vol. 111  no. 33  12252-12257
Robb B. Rutledgea,Nikolina Skandalia, Peter Dayanc, and Raymond J. Dolan
A common question in the social science of well-being asks, “How happy do you feel on a scale of 0 to 10?” Responses are often related to life circumstances, including wealth. By asking people about their feelings as they go about their lives, ongoing happiness and life events have been linked, but the neural mechanisms underlying this relationship are unknown. To investigate it, we presented subjects with a decision-making task involving monetary gains and losses and repeatedly asked them to report their momentary happiness. We built a computational model in which happiness reports were construed as an emotional reactivity to recent rewards and expectations. Using functional MRI, we demonstrated that neural signals during task events account for changes in happiness.