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21 Facts About Happiness That Will Surprise You

Today I’ve got a collection of somewhat random, but definitely interesting, facts about happiness. These are bits of information that I collected as I was writing several other posts about happiness. I found some of these facts to be mighty surprising!

Some may be familiar to you, but I suspect that most of them you probably haven’t heard before!

I was certainly surprised to learn many of these facts about happiness.

Read about Emotional Self-Care for Women Over 50

I love facts and knowledge. Last year at Christmas time, our family got into a late-night round of Trivial Pursuit. My son and I crushed everyone – every single game! (I think we made it through 3 games that night!) Much of the reason we played so well was that he and I both enjoy collecting these little factoids about all different topics.

You never know when random knowledge will prove beneficial! Ok, well, you know it helps in Trivial Pursuit…and the Thursday night trivia contests my husband and I regularly attended prior to COVID Life.

Who knows, maybe someday in the not-too-distant future, you’ll be at some classy cocktail party and have reason to whip out some obscure but interesting detail about happiness that you learned here. Because, hey – it’s more interesting than discussing the weather!

Get to know these surprising facts about happiness!

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Surprising Facts About Happiness You Probably Didn’t Know

What Contributes to Happiness?

1. Happiness has long been considered to be determined by 3 primary factors: 50% genetics, 40% intention, and 10% life circumstance.

Keeping in mind that the study of happiness is not hard science, this may be a bit of an oversimplification. Regardless, we can at least understand that happiness is not completely predestined by your genetic makeup.

Happiness is also influenced by the circumstances in which you live, and to a large extent, by your actions, your attitude, and the way you handle situations.

In other words, if it is your intention to experience life in a happy way, you probably will.

Intention is what puts YOU in the driver’s seat when it comes to experiencing happiness.

facts about happiness, pie chart showing what determines happiness

How Happy Are We on a Global Scale?

2. Based on 2017 statistics, the most satisfied country in the world was Finland, followed by Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and the Netherlands.

In fact, Nordic countries occupied the top three spots in 2017, 2018, and 2019.

It’s hard to determine exactly why this remains such a constant. It is likely due at least partly to the fact that Nordic citizens experience a high sense of autonomy and freedom, as well as high levels of social trust towards each other and their social institutions.

3. In contrast to the Nordic countries, the United States ranked much lower, at #18 in 2016 and dropping one place to #19 in 2017.

4. Research found that the world’s happiest children live in these same Nordic countries, plus Mexico, Spain, and Brazil. What do these countries have in common? They are all places in which family relationships tend to be highly prized and prioritized.

Happiness in the U.S.A.

5. In a 2017 study, only 33% of Americans surveyed said they were happy.

6. One survey found that 65 out of 100 people would choose happiness over health, demonstrating that happiness is highly valued.

7. The people in the 2017 study who reported being the happiest were men and women in high-income households and those with a high school diploma or less.

8. Republicans overall reported greater levels of happiness than Democrats.

9. A whopping 40 percent of Americans say they “sometimes or always feel their social relationships are not meaningful.”

10. 20 percent of Americans describe themselves as, “lonely or socially isolated.”

11. 28 percent of older adults are living alone. In terms of physical health, loneliness can have as much of a negative impact on the body as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

12. Happiness has often been described as a “U” curve. It is at a high when you’re in your twenties, dips down to its lowest point in middle age, and then shoots back up again in your late sixties. That dip is often referred to as a “Mid-Life Crisis”.

However, newer studies seem to be countering the “U” curve, and researchers are starting to question the accuracy of the U Curve model – as well as the inevitability of the mid-life crisis!

13. People are least happy with their looks from ages 55 to 59. They are not at their happiest during their youthful years as one might expect, but instead, after the age of 70.

Happy News About Happiness

14. Self-confidence, while not the same as happiness, certainly contributes to it. Self-confidence peaks at around age sixty, which may partially explain the reported rise in happiness at that age.

15. The highest levels of happiness were reported by people that spent 6 or 7 hours per day socializing.

16. Study participants who described themselves as being “happy” or “extremely happy” exhibited a healthier heart rate pattern than those who were “moderately happy” or “not happy”.

17. Those who are exposed to floral scents are about three times happier, demonstrating the powerful but subtle ways our senses can influence our emotions.

18. Some studies have shown that happier people are less likely to come down with the common cold.

19. People who reported feeling happier were 35% less likely to die over the course of the next five years.

20. Researchers have found that exercising just 10 minutes a day improves a subject’s mood, reduces stress, and generally enhances well-being.

21. The likelihood of happiness rises 15.3 percent if a family member or close friend is happy.

Read More About Happiness:

Final Thoughts on 21 Facts About Happiness That Will Surprise You

So, 21 quick statistics about happiness.

Personally, my biggest surprise was just how interrelated happiness and health are.

Happiness makes you healthier; health makes you happier.

I kinda love it, actually.

What was your biggest takeaway from these statistics? Let’s have a conversation in the comments!

12 thoughts on “21 Facts About Happiness That Will Surprise You”

  1. I was surprised that happiness dips in midlife! I feel the happiest I’ve ever been, my twenties included! This was such an interesting post!

    1. Michele, I totally agree – my midlife has been the happiest time in my life too. But I guess we are not the norm or “average”. I do like the idea that we are ticking upwards and will likely be much happier as we age than we are now – good times to come!

  2. Very interesting factoids which I will try to absorb for my next trivial pursuit match! I agree that scents do make us happy. I have recently added lavender essential oil to my shower/bath scrunchy thing & it definitely makes me smile. I’m all for finding happiness in the day, no matter how small.

    1. I’m a huge fan of lavender essential oils! I have a spray I use at bedtime to help me drift off easily, but I will have to try it in the shower. Great suggestions, thank you!

  3. It’s all so true! I feel the difference mentally when I work out to compared to when I don’t. I feel happier, like I can conquor the world when I work out. When I don’t I feel depressed and hopeless.

    1. I feel the same, Isabella! Even though these facts are somewhat “dry”, they are clearly impactful and we need to take them to heart. I for one, am really much more focused on exercise now that I see what a difference it makes in my mood. Thanks for reading!

  4. lovely psof on happiness. It is a topic that is not talked about often. For me, happiness is more than a feeling but a choice. It’s not always easy to choose everyday to be happy espriclaly for those who suffer from depression or bipolar. I love your points on the “u” curve as it related to happiness. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Rebekah! Yes, happiness to a great extent is a choice, but that doesn’t make it an easy one. If only, right? But it is soething we can work toward each and every day.

  5. I always feel like happiness is a choice we have to do every day. I totally feel the happiness equals health fact. When I stop to really think about, it’s the little things that bring me pure happiness and joy, and it’s something I try to keep in mind daily.

    1. Agreed – it is very often the little, easily overlooked things that bring the most happiness. Trouble begins when we forget to look for and appreciate those little things! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Madi!

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