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25 Facts About Happiness

The State of Being Happy

happy elderly women next to statue

Happiness is probably the best feeling in the world. It’s something that we’re all searching for, but also something that not everyone is able to genuinely find. If you think hard enough, you can probably remember the times in your life when you were truly happy. Leo Tolstoy once said, “If you want to be happy, be.” But is being happy really that simple? How much control do we really have over our own happiness and the happiness of others? Some people believe our happiness is solely in our hands, while others believe that there are other factors that contribute to how we feel at any given time. Here we’ve compiled 25 fun and interesting facts about happiness to better understand the ins and out of achieving your bliss.

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happy handball players in norway

The World Happiness Report of 2017 ranks Norway as the happiest country in the world.

Every year the World Happiness Report ranks the happiness level of countries around the globe based on life expectancy, generosity, freedom, economic strength, social support and the perceived amount of government and business corruption. This annual study is based upon surveys of residents in over 150 countries. The questions are subjective and ask participants to rate their current situation in relationship to their best possible and worst possible life scenario. Historically, the Nordic countries have always place highly on the list. Rounding out the top five after Norway are Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, and Finland. Maybe the cooler temperatures make people happy.

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happy man smiling

The best temperature for happiness is 57°F.

Wait! Maybe it IS the cooler temperatures that contribute to the Nordic happiness rate!
In 2011, the American Meteorological Society found that temperature affects our happiness more than wind, precipitation, humidity and even sunshine. Using a 17-month daily survey and connecting the data to weather patterns, the researchers found that people were happiest at 57°F. As the mercury rises or falls from 57°F, our happiness drops.

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happy woman enjoying a sunset in england

The happiest time of day is 7:00PM.

When researchers found the perfect happiness temperature in 2011, they noted that sunshine did not make us happier. They also found that, on average, we are happier at night. In 2015, other researchers narrowed down the happiness time of day: 7:00PM. With the workday done, it seems that most people are spending quality time with their friends and family in the evening. Even though the tasks may be mundane, everyday activities, people are happy and enjoying themselves.

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united states of america flag

The United States is the 14th happiest country in the world.

Ten years ago, the U.S. was in third place on the World Happiness Index. By 2016, it had dropped down to 13th. People in the know theorize that increased corruption and societal division are beginning to take their toll.

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Wedding Of Crown Princess Victoria & Daniel Westling - Banquet - Inside

Married people are happier than unmarried people.

This long-discussed paradigm is the bane of die-hard singletons. With divorce, widowhood and domestic partnerships entering into the equation, it is hard to discern if married people truly are happier than unmarried folks. But a Canadian study has found that people who marry their best friend are, indeed, happier than their non-married counterparts. The theory behind these findings is that being married to your best friend reduces much of the stress of middle age. Having a built-in, at-home support system makes coping easier than it is for people who go it alone.

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happy woman with blonde hair smiling

Happiness really is contagious.

Studies suggests that happiness can move through a social network like a cold. It seems that sharing happy news can make the receiver happy, too. Close friends can see a 25% boost in happiness. Surprisingly, while spouses only have an 8% happiness increase, next door neighbors can experience up to a 34% increase!

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two little babies hanging out

Having a child makes you happier…for a year.

Nearly every parent would say that their children make them happy. But the initial glow of having a child fades after the first year. Why? After a year, caring for your child becomes more stressful. No longer are they a small, portable, cuddly, sleepy baby.

At 12 months, children are standing alone and beginning to walk. As soon as they are mobile, baby proofing becomes more important and it can be difficult to constantly monitor your child. Also, they begin to sleep through the night but are sleeping less overall, leaving less alone time for parents. It’s around this time that parents begin to focus more on their child’s happiness than their own.

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sleeping baby being held

Cuddling your child can make them happier adults.

In 2016, a psychologist found that children who are have time for free play, have quality family time and have pleasant experiences with loving touch grow up to be happier adults. When a child is upset, a parent’s natural instinct is to hold them close to comfort them. This touch is one of a child’s first lesson in love and trust. As adults, these positive experiences and close relationships keep them less anxious and happier than their peers who were not held and comforted.

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happy woman smiling in boston

A fake smile can make you happy.

In an interestingly fun study, scientists used chopsticks to manipulate participant’s mouths into a genuine smile, fake smile or neutral expression. They then asked participants to engage in stressful tasks while the researchers continued to hold their assigned facial expressions with the chopsticks. Despite their expressions being artificially created, people who had the “genuine smile” experienced the lowest hearts and were relaxed. Even the fake smile group reported positive feelings. The neutral expression group did not experience a positive effect.

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conor mcgregor smiling

Attractive people really are happier.

Researchers have recently confirmed what all the nerds and geeks knew was true in high school: The pretty people are happy. In a small study in Poland, college students were asked the rate their attractiveness and their life satisfaction. The students who rated their attractiveness first were more satisfied with their lives. It seems that once they reflected on their body satisfaction and personal attractiveness, the other aspects of their lives seemed rosier.

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donald trump and jeb bush debating

In the U.S., conservatives tend to be happier than liberals.

Regardless of the results of the latest presidential election, studies have shown that conservatives are generally happier than liberals. A core belief of conservatives is based on the entrepreneurial spirit of Americans and that your destiny is in your own hands. Liberals focus on the need for a government to support its people, for without that help, they won’t be able to do it on their own. These core beliefs make up the basis for what each group defines as “fair.” Conservatives are happier because they see the free enterprise system in the United States as fair.

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view of united states capitol building

Extremists on both sides of the political spectrum are happiest.

While their political beliefs are polar opposites, people who consider themselves “extremely conservative” or “extremely liberal” are happier than the folks that consider themselves “moderate.” In a 2012 study, 48% of extreme conservatives, 35% of extreme liberals and 26% of moderates indicated that they were very happy. The reason for this disparity is unclear. Some people theorize that extremists have confidence in their belief system and know unwaveringly what is “right and wrong.”

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happy little girl running outside

The happiest kids in the world live in The Netherlands.

In 2013, UNICEF ranked the children of The Netherlands as the happiest children. Each country was rated on housing and environment, health and safety, education, risks and material well-being. Impressively, The Netherlands had the highest overall score and were in the top five for each category. Not only did the country top the official list, Dutch children even consider themselves happy. More than 95% of the children polled think they are happy.

More recently, research has found that Dutch babies are easier to soothe and more contented than babies born in the United States. Experts suggest this is a result of different parenting strategies and techniques between the two countries.

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

woman eating a piece of chocolate

Chocolate really does make you happy.

Chocolate is chock full of naturally occurring chemical compounds that can lift your mood. Phenylethylamine is the biggest contributor to chocolate bliss. Not only is it a natural antidepressant but your brain produces a lot of phenylethylamine when you fall in love. Chocolate also tastes so good, how could you be anything other than happy when you eat it!

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Merkel Visits Heidenau Asylum Shelter Following Violent Protests

Your mom was right. It really IS better to give than to receive.

Through numerous studies, science has proven the old adage to be true. Recently, researchers gave a group of college students money that they either needed to spend on themselves or on others by the end of the day. The students who chose to gift others were happier than those who spent the money on themselves. This study, among others, found that the happiness from giving even crosses income lines.

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people worshipping at a church service

People who attend church services are happier.

Regardless of faith, people who attend regular church services are happier than those who do not. It is believed that church-goers boost their happiness because of the feeling of community that church provides. Seeing friends and family on a regular basis connects people to their community. Coming together with a shared belief strengthens that connection.

Also, it is thought that the belief in a greater power and a world beyond our own also contributes to this happiness. The faith that there is more than our reality can help people deal with the stresses and troubles of today.

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

two people smiling

We can smell happiness on others…and it makes us happy.

You have heard the phrase, “smell the fear.” Now scientists think we can also smell the happiness. In a 2015 study, scientists collected specimens of underarm sweat of study participants when they were feeling happy, fearful and neutral while watching different movies. They then measured the facial activity of other participants as they sniffed the happy, fearful and neutral sweat. Smelling the “happy sweat” of others brought about a happier expression in the sniffer!

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woman crying on another woman's shoulder

Women are getting sadder.

A controversial study suggests that, despite great strides toward gender equality, today’s modern woman is not nearly as happy as her counterpart from 1970. Many theories abound, not only as to the truth of this study’s results, but the reasons for this decline. It is surmised that many working women are still the main childcare provider and household manager. Juggling a career and these domestic duties leave women with less time for self-care and fun. Some women indicate that being responsible for the daily duties along with their career has a tendency to make them feel exploited.
Ironically, men tend to get a boost on the happiness scale from completing household chores. It seems they find themselves helpful and relish a job completed.

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engineer inspecting airplane

Engineering is currently the happiest career in the world.

With the constant addition of new career paths, it can be hard to lock down the happiest job. This year, a few studies and polls have indicated that engineers are the happiest. These scientifically minded, creative thinkers enjoy the challenge of problem solving. What’s more, they like seeing their ideas in at work. Best yet, these high demand jobs pay a comfortable salary. Other professions that made the top ten happiest list are: hairdresser, teacher, nurse, marketer, medical practitioner, gardener, scientist, plumber and personal assistant.

(Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

happy woman running on beach

Exercise is a great way to increase your happiness.

As every fitness fanatic will tell you, you get a rush from exercise. When you get the blood pumping, dopamine, a chemical connected to happiness, gets pumping too. The dopamine/happiness connection is so strong that in a study of patients with depression, people who were treated with exercise alone only exhibited a 9% chance of relapse during the course of the study. Patients who were treated with medication alone were at a 38% chance of relapse.

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man swimming with his dog

Spending time with pets causes your brain to release oxytocin which is known as the “cuddle hormone” or “love hormone.”

Oxytocin, a powerful hormone that is created in the brain, plays a significant role in our ability to feel empathy and trust. It has also been shown to pull us out of a depressed mood.
It is oxytocin that helps us to bond with our newborn children. When a parent stares into the eyes of their infant, the child’s oxytocin levels rises, causing them to stare back at their parent. In turn, their returned gaze increases the parent’s oxytocin level.

Recent studies now show that staring into the eyes of your dog will not only cause your oxytocin levels to rise, but even your dog will get a boost! Now that’s puppy love.

(Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

man walking on beach

Being outside can make you happy.

A recent Japanese experiment studied participants walking in nature or in a city. Both groups walked paths of similar distance and difficulty. The group walking in the great outdoors had lower heart rates and indicated that they were in better moods than the city walkers.

A similar study in Finland observed that city dwellers, who walked in local parks for as little as 20 minutes, noted a marked improvement in mood and stress levels.

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

two women hugging

Performing random acts of kindness can make you happier.

Remember the oxytocin that bonds you with your pup? It also flows freely when you complete an act of kindness. Being kind to others makes you feel good as a person. As simple as opening a door for someone, these acts reduce anxiety and boost your happiness.

(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

two men having serious conversation

Studies have shown that people who engage in deep conversations are happier than those who don’t.

In a study that recorded the conversations of participants throughout the day, researchers found that the happiest participants had more substantive conversations than the least happy. Nearly half of their conversations had deep meaning, whereas only 10% of their conversations were small talk. The authors of the study are not sure if deep conversations cause people to be happier or if happier people actively make the decision to engage in hearty chats.
Nevertheless, humans are social creatures. Creating meaningful connections with others can always boost your mood.

(Photo by Ross Land/Getty Images)

happy woman getting ready for the day

Happiness is approximately 50% genetics, 40% our own mindset and 10% life circumstance.

A research psychologist at the University of California recently found that some of us are genetically predisposed to be happy. While our genes are beyond our control, those of us lacking the “happy gene” can still reach bliss. 10% of happiness relies upon our life circumstance: our job, our relationships, our education, our health. But 40% of our happiness is based on the way we handle situations and our personal level of optimism. Honest Abe Lincoln said it best, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

(Photo by Jennifer Polixenni Brankin/Getty Images)

Written by Camille Moore

Camille has a master's degree from Saint Joseph University's Writing Studies program. Her writing has been published on several websites, and she enjoys writing articles and short stories in her spare time. You can follow Camille on Twitter @CamealAshley.