So what is this thing called happiness? For centuries, people were too busy pursuing it to spend much time analyzing it. Now a pioneering band of researchers has finally bagged the elusive quarry – or, at least taken its measure. Using such sophisticated new tools as the five-item Life Satisfaction Scale and the seven-point Delighted-Terrible Scale, social psychologists have plumbed the heart of happiness. And their answer to the age-old mystery is that it all depends.
Happiness, that is, depends on what makes you feel happy, witch is why psychologists often call it “subjective well-being”. But from studies of various age and population groups in United States and other countries, they have reached some objective conclusions on the makings of happiness. What comes up consistently at the top of the charts is not, as many might expects, success, youth, good looks or any of those enviable assets. The clear winner is relationships. Close ones. Followed by happy marriage. Next comes religion faith, of almost any kind. “Supportive, intimate connections with other people seem tremendously important,” says psychologist David Myers. Using simple survey questions, Myers found that the least happy people are those in unhappy marriages. Happiest are those who are married to their “best friend”.