Happiness: the 10 secrets of male happiness
Two new studies claim to show what makes us happy. Now, what makes you happy might not be the same things that make me happy, but by analysing millions of responses and numerous previous pieces of research, the studies claim to have pinpointed the kind of things that make most of us happy, most of the time.
So here are the 10 things you might want to be doing more of, if you want to claim a bigger slice of the happiness pie.
An obvious one, perhaps, but having sex makes us happier. In fact, it raises moods by an average of 14%.
That’s a lot, and we know this because of Mappiness, an app developed by an academic, George MacKerron, in conjunction with the London School of Economics. Mappiness pings users - of which there are more than 50,000 - at random times to ask them what they’re doing and how they’re feeling. From that it produces a pretty accurate picture of the activities that make us most happy.
Sex and intimacy are at the top of the pile and researchers actually think Mappiness underplays the mood lift sex brings. That’s because it would be a pretty inconsiderate lover who actually reached for their phone during sex, so the recorded mood will be from some time after the act.
Nor will it come as a surprise that being with friends also makes us happy. According to the Mappiness project, it lifts our moods by an impressive 8.2%. This chimes with a lot of research which suggests people with strong social circles are the happiest and healthiest of all.
What’s a bit more surprising is that being with friends makes us happier than being with partners (a 5.9% mood lift) and a lot happier than being with our children (a meagre 1.4% mood lift). Seeing good friends regularly really does seem to be key to our life satisfaction.
There’s a well-known phenomenon called the runner’s high - the sense of euphoria experienced by athletes after completing a run. That’s not just because they’ve finished and got it over with - it’s because exercise floods our systems with happy hormones, resulting in an immediate mood lift.
And it’s not just running. Any exercise will do it. The Mappiness project found that exercise improves mood by an average of 8.1%.