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Happiness is…


Because it is only each one of us individually that can evaluate how happy we are. Happiness researchers use the term “subjective well-being” to define happiness.

Emotional state

Joy, satisfaction, pleasure, delight, enthusiasm, gratification, fulfillment. Happy people have been found to experience high levels of positive emotions most of the time.

Mental state

Global evaluation or conscious judgment of one’s life satisfaction. Happy people tend to be highly satisfied with their lives overall.


Happiness is not a static state. Even the happiest people have dark moods at times, and those less happy have their happy moments.

But measurable

Some measures, such as The Day Reconstruction Method and brain imaging technology are focused on our moment-to-moment emotional experiences, while others are based on our evaluation of how happy or satisfied we are overall.

Take a happiness test:

Life Satisfaction Scale (...in progress)

Authentic Happiness Testing Center

Happy Planet Index

Partially a matter of genes 50%

Based on a study of 254 identical and fraternal twins, and numerous other studies, most happiness researchers agree that genes account for about 50% of our usual level of happiness. Genes influence such traits as easy going personality, cheerfulness, dealing well with stress and feeling low levels of anxiety and depression.

Partially a matter of life circumstances 10%

It has been found that life circumstances, such as age, gender, ethnicity, culture, geographical factors, personal history, marital status, religious affiliation, health, education, income and job security account for only 8-10% of our usual level of happiness.

Largely in your control 40%

Is there a happiness formula that works? Whereas there is no single happiness formula that works, the growing happiness research shows that making certain practices intentional and habitual helps create a happier life. Different happiness authors, teachers and researchers propose different “happiness formulas”. You can check some of them via our happiness links page.

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