Measuring happiness

Forbes has released a list of the world’s happiest countries. The story discusses a few important factors in determining happiness, including income and feeling like one’s psychological and social needs are met on a daily basis.

According to the story, here is how Gallup measured happiness between 2005 and 2009:

First they asked subjects to reflect on their overall satisfaction with their lives, and ranked their answers using a “life evaluation” score between 1 and 10. Then they asked questions about how each subject had felt the previous day. Those answers allowed researchers to score their “daily experiences”–things like whether they felt well-rested, respected, free of pain and intellectually engaged.

It appears Gallup is working with two different dimensions of happiness:

1. Overall life satisfaction. Have you been able to meet your goals?

2. Happiness on a day-to-day basis. Are you relatively free to enjoy life each day?

It is interesting to note that relatively few people in any of the countries are categorized as “suffering.” Additionally, there is not a whole lot of variation in the daily experience index (1-10 scale).

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