The Pleasure Principle

These days, nearly everyone is either in pursuit of or talking about happiness. Which begs the question—how happy are you?  Sonja Lyumbomirsky, a professor at the University of California Riverside and the author The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want (Penguin Group, 2008) has spent her career studying the topic and can help you answer that question with a quiz she created. For each of the following statements or questions, please jot down on a piece of paper the number you think most appropriately describes you.

1. On a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 is “not a very happy person” and 7 is a “very happy person,” in general, I consider myself:

2. On a scale of 1 to 7 where 1 is “less happy” and 7 is “more happy,” compared with most of my peers, I consider myself:


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3. Some people are generally very happy. They enjoy life regardless of what is going on, getting the most out of everything. On a scale of 1 to 7 where 1 is “not at all' and 7 is “a great deal,” to what extent does this characterization describe you?

4. Some people are generally not very happy. Although they are not depressed, they never seem as happy as they might be. . On a scale of 1 to 7 where 1 is “a great deal” and 7 is “not at all,” to what extent does this characterization describe you?

To calculate your score, add up your responses to each question and divide by four. The average happiness score runs from about 4.5 to 5.5.  Students tend to score lower (averaging a bit below 5) than working adults and older people (who average 5.6).