Monday, June 04, 2007

The BBC’s Formula for Happiness

A new six-part BBC series entitled ‘The Happiness Formula’, that has started this month, looks at the newest research from around the world to find out what could it be that makes us happy.

Happiness is a slippery subject that means different things to different people but now scientists say they can actually measure happiness simply by asking people how happy they are.

The leading American psychologist Professor Ed Diener from the University of Illinois, told ‘The Happiness Formula’ that the science of happiness is based on one straightforward idea:

"It may sound silly but we ask people 'How happy are you 1-7, 1-10?’
"And the interesting thing is that produces real answers that are valid, they're not perfect but they're valid and they predict all sorts of real things in their lives."

"The measures are not perfect yet I think they are in many ways as good as the measures economists use," said Professor Diener.

Happiness seems to have almost magical properties and science suggests it leads to long life, health, resilience and good performance.

What makes us happy?
According to psychologist Professor Ed Diener there is no one key to happiness but a set of ingredients that are vital.
First, family and friends are crucial - the wider and deeper the relationships with those around you the better.

The second vital ingredient is having meaning in life, a belief in something bigger than yourself - from religion, spirituality or a philosophy of life.

The third element is having goals embedded in your long term values that you're working for, but also that you find enjoyable.

For more information on this subject and series see:
Mike Rudin, ‘The science of happiness’, BBC.

Image: Ed Diener, looking as if he possesses a happiness rating of 8 out of 10.