Having sex and partying are two of life's most enjoyable
activities, according to a University of Canterbury research
Spending time on Facebook and texting, on the other hand, are
much less fulfilling.
Postgraduate psychology researcher Carsten Grimm used
mobile-phone text-messaging to survey what people did during
the day and how they felt about it, a technique called
"I texted people three times a day over a week and the
response rate was really high. People are never far from
their cellphones these days," Grimm said.
"People replied to on average 97 per cent of all text
messages and texts were sent at random times, so there is a
really rich sample of everyday life to look at."
Grimm found "sex or making love" ranked first in the four
categories measured in the survey: Pleasure, meaning,
engagement, and happiness.
Drinking alcohol or partying ranked second in the pleasure
and happiness stakes, but was rated much less meaningful.
Instead, caregiving or volunteering, and meditating and
religious practices were seen as more meaningful to
respondents. They also ranked highly in happiness.
At the other end of the scale, washing, dressing and grooming
ranked last out of the 30 behaviours surveyed, and being sick
and receiving healthcare ranked 30th for happiness.
Facebook was seen as the least meaningful, and also rated
poorly in the other three categories. Texting and emailing
also rated poorly in the pleasure and happiness categories.
Happiness and wellbeing were increasingly being used
alongside traditional economic indicators such as GDP in
policy decision-making, Grimm said.
"Treasury is now including well-being measures - life
satisfaction - in its higher living standards framework, so
governments are into this well-being stuff," he said.
"I am currently researching how to add to that understanding.
So far governments around the world and media have focused
mainly on life satisfaction in the discussion about
well-being; it turns out happiness is a far more complicated
"One of the areas I'm researching - orientations to happiness
- looks at whether there are different ways of going about
seeking happiness. Psychologists have proposed that
individuals may seek to increase their well-being through
three main behavioural orientations: via pleasure, via
engagement, and via meaning."
Grimm is to present his research on Wednesday as part of the
University of Canterbury's showcase lecture series.
"The results have implications for what psychologists have
called 'the full life'. Those who tend to be high on all
three orientations to happiness not only score high on life
satisfaction, they also tend to have higher experiences of
pleasure, meaning, engagement and happiness in their daily
lives," he said.
"This means that being able to seek happiness in different
ways may enrich your everyday experience and increase your
The research was supervised by Professor Simon Kemp.
Top activities that make you happy
1. Sex/making love
2. Drinking alcohol/partying
4. Meditating/religious activities
5. Childcare/playing with children
6. Listening to music/podcast
7. Socialising/talking/ chatting
4. Studying/working on education
7. Paid work
9. Internet/on computer
- Paul Harper, nzherald.co.nz