All of this philosophical musings is all to the good but I am not enough of a martyr or a proselyte to give up on the goal of Happiness.
- A team led by Shigehiro Oishi conducted what they claim is the first study of the idea that there may be an optimal happiness level. There is a wealth of data available that includes some measure of happiness along with other possible measures of well-being, so rather than conducting a new survey, the researchers re-analyzed several different data sets with an eye to learning if the optimal level of happiness might be something less than "perfectly content."
Earlier this week we discussed the relationship between life satisfaction and other measures of well-being, finding that for measures such as relative income, the happiest people weren't always the best-off. For relationships, however, the happiest individuals also seem to do better.
But these measures were only taken at an instant in time. What about over longer periods? The College and Beyond study questioned incoming college freshmen in 1976, and included a self-rating of "cheerfulness," among many other measures. Then those same individuals were surveyed in 1995. How did cheerfulness affect income nearly two decades later? Here are the results:
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