How do we measure happiness? A simple question, but tends to be a complicated answer. Take a second to think about that question. Happiness is not something tangible. You can’t hold happiness in your hand, smell it, or taste it. You can feel it, but not in the scientific meaning of the word. So how do we really know if we are happy? One of the most traditional places to look first is Mr. Webster’s book.
Happiness is a state of well-being and contentment.
Webster’s definition doesn’t really help me define a measurement system for happiness. This is still a vague and general definition. It doesn’t provide a simple way to determine if you are happy. So let’s dive into this a little more.
As an engineer I need something more than just a feeling, something subjective. I went to the great encyclopedia of the cloud, Google. I searched high and low for answers on how to quantitatively measure happiness. I was very surprised to see that the most common result was based around money/wealth. I chuckled and immediately drew the conclusion that money is the root to happiness. But we all know that is not the truth. We would be a very shallow and chronically unhappy society if money was the only way to measure happiness.
Take a look at the 5 happiest countries in the world (GDP/capita USD)1,2.
36. Qatar ($132,900)
The happiest countries in the world don’t even make it into the top 10 for GDP per capita. Thank goodness, money is not the direct path to happiness. So I got the top 5 happiest cuntries from the World Happiness Report 2016. This organization uses 6 markers to determine happiness in a country; GDP, social support, healthy life expectancy at birth, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and perceptions of corruption. I think on a world scope, these markers are good to analyze. It takes into account the political and economic situations people exist in. I do have a problem with two of their markers… Freedom to make life choices and perceptions of corruption.
Why do I not like these two markers? It puts the blame of why one is not happy on someone else. You have the freedom to choose what you want. I am not naive about this, I understand that North Koreans don’t have the same opportunities as Americans or Europeans… but that doesn’t mean they aren’t as happy. If all you knew was North Korea then maybe serving your country is all you desire in life. Maybe that is what makes you happy.
I am proposing a new method to measure one’s happiness. How do I measure happiness? I would have to say I measure happiness from a combination of things.
How do you determine purpose? Ask yourself, if you could only do three things everyday what would those three things be? Remove the ideas of commitment and idea of money. Unlimited time, money, and resources. Purpose is the meaning to life. It is what keeps our lungs filled with air and the spark to keep our heart beating. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the fullest; how do you stack up?