The Science of Happiness


Over the decades, a few psychological researchers have ventured out of the dark realm of mental illness into the sunny land of mental well-being. Perhaps the most eager explorer of this terrain was University of Illinois psychologist Edward Diener, referred to as “Dr. Happiness.” For more than two decades, Diener examined what does and does not make people feel satisfied with life.

The are some surprising results revealed by researchers on happiness. Take wealth, for instance, and all the delightful things that money can buy. Diener’s research, among others, has shown that once your basic needs are met, additional income does little to raise your sense of satisfaction with life.

How about a good education? No. In fact, older people are more consistently satisfied with their lives than the young. They are less prone to dark moods. A recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that people ages twenty to twenty-four are sad for an average of 3.4 days a month, as opposed to just 2.3 days for people ages sixty-five to seventy-four.

How about marriage? This one is a complicated picture. Married people are generally happier than single people, but studies have not been overall consistent, and more research is needed to find out this dilemma.

Do sunny days bring happiness? No conclusive evidence exists, although there are theories on the sun affecting serotonin and melatonin release by the pineal gland.

What about religion? Not sure. Religious faith seems to genuinely lift the spirit, thought it’s tough to tell whether it’s the God part of the community aspect that does the heavy lifting.

Read more about The Science of Happiness in The Third Vision

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