Let me tell you a little bit about yourselves. Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
Very interesting survey results. Look forward to more stats!
Enjoyed the survey I am a Happy but Widowed Paid subscriber Ed Davis
It doesn’t surprise me that happiness drop when it does. People begin adult life with many illusions, then reality hits with jobs, children and, well, life.
I think there is a significant difference between someone that is religious and someone that is spiritual. Religion implies dogma while spirituality covers a large area with no “rules.” Religious people tend to need to identify what god is in human terms while spiritual people are content with the ineffable. As a result, some who are spiritual may have responded with a 1 if they are not religious.
I take all this happiness data with a grain of salt. Happiness is much like news in that it runs in short cycles. How happy are you compared to a year ago, 5 years ago? One question should have been "what day of the week are you filling out this survey"? just to analyze the happiness-day of the week correlation. Mon-Wed probably less with Thur-Sun trending higher I would guess.
I am unhappy with high gas prices. What makes me less happy is seeing President Biden using our strategic reserves in an unintended manner. I believe the reserves are to be used in a national emergency such as a significant interruption in worldwide supply. Biden is using the reserves as a political hail Mary to improve his approval numbers. This, I believe, will hurt the US in the long run and could be just what Putin wants us to do as part of his plan to dominate the oil market.
There, now I feel better which makes me happy.
ALso remember, this data sample is self-selected. As a former prof - the only feedback I got on my class surveys was from students who did really well or those who really did not (As and Ds - No B or C comments) - in other words the +/- 2 std deviations folks (had a great stats teacher in grad school!) So not a random sample. That's not to say the data doesn't tell us things - it does! But they are more ballpark indications (right or left field) vs. exact facts. But thanks for making us think - which is "understandably" the reason for this column. Pun intended.
Reading your newsletter makes me happy so I usually begin reading this every day. As for religion, I gave that up years ago; and I do mean years. It’s not as though I didn’t try. I figured that if you had to put your god in a box or turn “Him”, never “Her” or “Them”, into a Santa Clause, transactional being, that wasn’t for me. I’m older now, almost 76 and newly widowed so it’s always new every day. While a lot of people might be trepidatious (is that even a word?)I'm finding it interesting, a challenge sometimes but never boring. I’m just taking each day as it comes, I cry when I need to, then go out and meet the day, hopefully with a smile on my face.
Hope all the Understandably team has a great weekend.
It does not surprise me to read the results, at least when it comes to marriage and the practice of faith and religion. Though marriage has a lot of challenges and we have to continually work at keeping our marriages going, being married to a good person does make life easier, and practicing your faith helps you get through very difficult times. The pandemic has really tested many marriages and faiths, but may have ultimately made some of them stronger.
Also, the readers of Understandably being a fairly happy bunch with an average rating of 7.7/10 doesn't suprise me either. We have quite discerning tastes, after all, reading Understandably, some of us every day ;).
Hypothesis on the dip in happiness in the 30s: I read some data (somewhere once, don't remember where) that people with kids report lower levels of happiness than people without. These days, people in their 30's tend to have young kids at high-maintenance ages, which might make them less happy. That's not to say kids suck. They can bring a great deal of satisfaction and significance to life without necessarily making you happy. Personal note: I am much happier now that my kids aren't toddlers anymore. They let me sleep in and can make their own food.
Happiness and Regrets- just finishing Up Daniel Pink book on regrets- Happiness some will say is either based on material, spiritual and/or both. Regrets can hurt your happiness score if you never turn them into positives or happiness on the regrets you can possibly fix. The ones like bullying someone in school when you are already past the school years will live with you for ever. The others are making the call or the apology or some other regret that can be fixed before its to late will give you some form of happiness. So spiritual happiness is what you make of yourself- is everyday you are alive going to be full of things you enjoy, want to learn about , interact with others and friends that make the day a great day. We never know when the best or the worst will rear its head at us but the more positive and happy you are the better your approach to the worst things that come your way.
Bobby McFerrin Lyrics
"Don't Worry, Be Happy"
Here's a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don't worry, be happy
In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don't worry, be happy now
Ooh, ooh ooh ooh oo-ooh ooh oo-ooh ooh ooh oo-ooh
Ooh oo-ooh ooh ooh oo-ooh
Ooh oo-ooh oo-ooh
(Don't worry, be happy)
Ain't got no place to lay your head
Somebody came and took your bed
The landlord say your rent is late
He may have to litigate
(Look at me I'm happy)
Here I give you my phone number
When you worry call me, I make you happy
As I like to say: To the politicised mind, humanity's iniquities are always committed by... "The others."
One thing I noticed that wasn't included was political inclinations and its correlation with happiness. An observation of mine - and this is quite consistent over four decades - is that people who suffer with depression and the more extreme forms of unhappiness and dissatisfaction are usually left wing voters. Especially if they're involved with activism. The more imbued with politics a person is - the more unhappy they tend to be.
I would posit that it's the involvement with politics that turns them into malcontents, rather than their unhappiness affecting their political inclinations.
Me? I remain an independent republic. I do what I like, when I like. And I am happy.
I am probably an outlier, being an 86 year old divorced gay male, but your newsletter is outstanding! Keep up the excellent work, and ask for help if you need it. I enjoy the conversational language, like you are really talking to us. Outstanding!
I will just say this. Religion, spirituality, whatever you call it, means a lot to me. Let go and let God as some of us say. The power of prayer is important. Dr. Francis Collins was on an interview show a few years ago. I believe he is the head of the Genome project and former head of NIH, and one of the leading scientists in the world which, to some people, might mean that he is not religious or does not believe in a God because, well, there is no scientific proof of it. In fact, he is a Christian and his faith means a lot to him. As he said, that's why you call it "faith." Prayer means a great deal to me. It is unfortunate that so many people look down at some Christians because of some extreme right Christianity. When I used to work in a hospital, there were many doctors who prayed with the patients.
Bill, thank you. Quality and thought provoking content every day. Proud to be a paid subscriber. The value you and your team offer is beautiful. Keep going!!
"This was one of the most interesting data points to me. I asked how important religion and spirituality are to you on a scale of 1 to 10.
The most popular answer? 10. The second-most popular answer? 1.
In general, although with some exceptions in the data, people who reported that religion and spirituality were important to them were more likely to report greater happiness."
Not surprising, those are the people least likely to see reality for what it is, AND to lie about their lives.
This is fascinating, yet very surface level. Keep pulling it apart! I’m curious to know how happiness levels track through age amongst married people by gender who say religion is important to them. How good are you at pivot tables in excel? I work with a guy who did data analysis for Liberty Mutual. I’m sure he’d be willing to help you out… this is the kind of stuff he does this stuff for fun!