How to Measure Happiness

4 steps to test how content you are with life, and ways you can get happier

Happiness is elusive for some people. You may wonder how you can tell if you are truly happy. It is normally characterized in cartoons with birds chirping happily around your head and bands boasting upbeat tunes with general grandeur. But measuring happiness is sometimes harder in real life, where we don't have the luxury of the theme song "Come On Get Happy" playing as we walk down the street.

Happiness factors are not always readily apparent, so how to measure happiness is something that scientists are busy working on as well. American psychologist Professor Ed Diener from the University of Illinois has spent time working with The Happiness Formula, where scientists ask people to rate their happiness on a scale of either 1-7 or 1-10. Dr. Diener says that, as simple as this sounds, responses are remarkably accurate. These results would imply that most people are adept at measuring their own happiness index. Take these steps to give yourself a happiness test and measure your own happiness.

Step 1: Look for meaning in your life

Many people measure happiness by the things in their lives that have value to them. Whether that be your car, pet or job, look for the things in your life that mean something to you to start measuring your happiness.

Step 2: Look for meaningful relationships with friends and family

Dr. Diener's same study on measuring happiness found that people with close friends and family are happier. Make a list of all the close family and friends in your life to use as happiness factors when measuring your happiness.

Step 3: Count your blessings

Research done by psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD., suggests that counting your blessings can help measure happiness by revealing more happiness in your life than you may have been previously aware of, or by revealing how little you have in your life that makes you happy. Looking for happiness factors, such as things in your life with which you have been blessed, will help you to measure your happiness.

Step 4: Ask yourself, “Am I willing to serve others?”

In her study, Dr. Lyubomirsky also found that performing acts of kindness can help measure happiness. Putting the blessings you counted in step 3 into action to serve others can further reveal to you how blessed your life is. The Dalai Lama said, "The gateway to happiness is serving others." Discovering how willing you are and how often you serve others with acts of kindness may very well be the best way to measure happiness.

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