The London School of Economics has started a new study to link happiness to physical location, time of day and other factors.
If it’s Tuesday, they’ve discovered, people are least happy — and at 8:00 p.m. Saturday night, they’re feeling their best.
Another new study says six things make most people happy:
It turns out that you can be happy — without worrying — as long as you get enough sleep, spend quality time with your family and get home from work at a decent hour.
According to a new study, it’s the simple things in life that make us content: home-cooked meals, trips abroad, a night out once in a while. As for money, well, The Beatles said it “can’t buy me love,” and it doesn’t seem to do much for happiness, either.
On the list citing the keys to contentment, cash didn’t even make the cut.
Experts doing a study for Yeo Valley, a British dairy company, quizzed 4,000 adults on their lifestyles and asked them to rate their happiness on a scale of 1 to 5 — 5 being perpetually happy exercise guru Richard Simmons and 1 being Oscar the Grouch. The result was a formula that includes one night out a week with a partner or friends and a 20-minute commute to work.
According to the study, happy people have four alcoholic drinks a week. They also eat four portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
Here are some of the things guaranteed to leave me grinning, no matter what the day:
Road trip! It can be almost anywhere
Travel, preferably overseas. Preferably Paris or Corsica. OK, anywhere in France! Using my passport makes me really happy
Hanging out with a dear friend over a great meal (or cold beer)
Cold beer — Hoegaarden, Blue Moon, Grolsch, St. Ambroise, Griffon…
An authoritative G & T made with original recipe Tanqueray
A very good pedicure
Scoring a treasure at a flea market or antique show
Watching the red hawks soaring over our balcony
Setting a pretty table and serving dinner to friends
Getting a book finished and into production
Patting a friendly dog
Looking at gorgeous art and well-made objects in a museum or gallery
Hitting to the outfield
A cuddle with the sweetie
A very ripe peach, mango or strawberry
The smells of dried, sun-warmed pine needles, Oeillet-Mignardise or Hesperides soap; horse; ocean; leather; “First” perfume; old stone
The sounds of a halyard clanging against a sailboat mast; water lapping against rocks; wind in the trees; laughter
A study of state residents’ happiness by professor Stephen Wu, assistant professor of economics at Hamilton College, finds New Yorkers the least happy of all — unfortunately, it didn’t break out the difference between upstate and downstate, so we don’t know if people in Park Slope or Staten Island are actually ecstatic while those in Rochester or Newburgh or Albany are mad as hell.
Wu’s study found that people in poor states like Mississippi and Louisiana, which, despite chronic poverty, were a lot cheerier than in New York, which came out at the bottom of their list. His research ties into a new book by former Harvard president Derek Bok’s “The Politics of Happiness”; both were interviewed today at great length (43 minutes), on WNYC’s Leonard Lopate Show.
As someone living 25 miles north of Manhattan in a county with insane property taxes, (mine are mitigated because I own an apartment), I get it. My county lacks many of the things that make me really happy, some deeply personal, others less so, from no decent florists, few cafes or other cool, hip “third spaces”, not enough sidewalks, lousy public transportation to the predictable — it’s boring! I stay for an affordable quality of life and quick, easy access to Manhattan. I enjoy a great view of the Hudson River and would be hard pressed to give it up.
Any New Yorker paying crazy-high taxes to the clowns in Albany, who recently shot down gay marriage, also gets it.
Like my partner, I moved here primarily for work; my family and long-time friends are far away. I certainly do enjoy the amenities and culture of Manhattan, but I won’t describe my experience here as one of relentless joy. It’s too hard, too expensive and you need to hire and pay lawyers for some of the simplest transactions. With long and expensive commutes and tolls of $5-9 each way to cross almost every bridge or tunnel, even going to hang out with a friend face to face who lives some distance away from you can feel like a costly hassle.
I do like the weather, which some New Yorkers find appalling — try Ottawa, Montreal or Toronto winters! I find New York plenty sunny and the cold is nothing as long as the sun is shining; in Toronto, the “lake effect” ensures months of cloudy, gray days, no matter how sunny the day begins. Much as I hate New Yorkers’ elbows-out pushiness, I do enjoy the variety of work and cultural opportunities.
Bok says that it’s social relationships that make people happiest — friends, family, trust, enjoying your neighbors. Wu agrees, that connection is the bigger factor than just knowing lots of people.
Callers to the show, and Bok, suggested that the chronically ambitious — what Bok called “excessive expectations” — are de facto grumpy. New York City, certainly, attracts those who have extremely high expectations of themselves and others, making it easy to be disappointed about every five minutes if that’s your style.