Everyone wants to be happy. Happiness is a problem word just like FUN is. The word happiness or fun often conjures party images of balloons flying up or something trivial and frivolous. The problem is how we measure happiness.
Scientists now claim they can actually measure happiness. Neuroscientists are measuring pleasure. They suggest that happiness is more than a vague concept or mood; it is real. Social scientists measure happiness simply by asking people how happy they are.
It is argued that what a person says about their own happiness tends to tally with what friends or even strangers might say about them if asked the same question. Most people say they are fairly happy. Now, scientists say governments can judge people’s happiness much more easily with new devices. That could be interesting.
Happiness seems to have almost magical properties. While there is no proof, the science suggests it leads to long life, health, resilience and good performance. Scientists work by comparing people’s reported happiness and a host of other factors such as age, sex, marital status, religion, health, income, unemployment and so on.
At the moment scientists cannot prove causation, whether for example people are healthy because they are happy, or whether people are happy because they are healthy. However, psychologists have been able to identify some very strong links. According to Professor Diener, the evidence suggests that happy people live longer than depressed people. Apparently, one study reported the difference was nine years between the happiest group and the unhappiest group, so that is a huge effect.