20 Amazing Facts About Happiness
Scientists are continuing to unravel the roots of positive emotion. You will be surprised and encouraged by the research findings outlined below.
1) Although genes and upbringing influence about 50% of the variation in our personal happiness, our circumstances (income and environment) affect only about 10 percent. The remaining 40% is accounted for by our outlook and activities, including our relationships, friendships and jobs, our engagement in the community and our involvement in sports and hobbies.
2) A good mood has a distinct smell. Scientists have found that people can judge whether someone is in a positive mood from their body odour alone. In one experiment men and women were shown scary films while their armpit odour was collected on gauze pads. A week later researchers asked strangers to decide which pads came from people in a good mood and which came from frightened people. They were able to do this with surprising accuracy.
3) Older people are more satisfied with there lives than younger people: a recent survey by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention found that people aged 20-24 are sad for an average of 3.4 days per month as opposed to just 2.3 days for people aged 65-74
4) If you do 20 minutes of exercise, three days per week for six months, your general feeling of happiness will improve by 10-20%.
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5) People who rate in the upper reaches of happiness on psychological tests develop about 50% more antibodies than average in response to flu vaccines.
6) According to researchers at The World Database of Happiness at Erasmus University in Holland, Denmark is officially the happiest nation in the world, followed closely by Malta, Switzerland, Iceland, Ireland and Canada.
7) In the USA clinical depression is 3-10 times more common today than two generations ago.
8) Immigrants tend to acquire the happiness characteristics of the nation to which they move, not the nation from which they were born.
9) Richer workers tend to be happier than poorer colleagues, but research suggests that happy people tend to have greater potential to become rich, so it's a chicken or egg scenario
10) People who suffer strokes or other debilitating diseases suffer tremendously in the short term but after a while their happiness is only slightly below the average of the population.
11) When people get married their happiness peaks, but after a while their happiness returns to the level it was before they got married.
12) Women tend to experience their all-time lowest life satisfaction at age 37, whereas men typically experience this at 42
13) Having 100-200 belly laughs a day is the equivalent of a high impact workout, burning off up to 500 calories.
14) Gold doesn't guarantee happiness. Studies of Olympic athletes found that bronze medal winners are happier than silver medal winners and sometimes happier than gold medallists. According to the Australian teams psychologist , Graham Winters, it feels better to come third when you are not expecting it than to be pipped for first.
15) The late pioneering social psychologist Professor Michael Argyle, who conducted many happiness studies, showed that among the things that made people happy are sport, music and - most of all dancing. Encouraging sports facilities everywhere would greatly increase a nations happiness. Group dancing which, which combines, exercise, music, community, touch and rules, also drastically increases happiness.
16) Several studies have shown that a pet can reduce blood pressure and stress, promoting health and happiness.
17) After basic needs are met, extra material wealth has little or no effect on life satisfaction or happiness (broadly speaking you would need to receive a windfall of more than Â£1 million to transform you from an unhappy person to a happy person and even then the effect is often temporary).
18) People in steady relationships are generally happier than singles.
19) In nations with high levels of income equality, such as the Scandinavian countries, happiness tends to be higher than in nations with unequal wealth distribution, such as the USA. People tend to prefer more local autonomy and more direct democracy to increased income.
20) According to a new look at a 40 year old study on child rearing practices conducted at Harvard University, those children who were hugged and cuddled more grew up to be the happiest.
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