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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 March 2006, 10:39 GMT
Test your happiness

Happy people
Are you as happy as these people?

Psychologists say it is possible to measure your happiness.

This test designed by psychologist Professor Ed Diener from the University of Illinois, takes just a minute to complete.

To find out how happy you are just look at the five statements below and decide whether you agree or disagree using a 1-7 scale.

Please be open and honest in your responding - remember your answers are totally private.

Once you have answered all five questions press submit and we will calculate your score. You will then be able to read Professor Diener's analysis.

  1. Strongly disagree
  2. Disagree
  3. Slightly disagree
  4. Neither agree nor disagree
  5. Slightly agree
  6. Agree
  7. Strongly agree

In most ways my life is close to ideal.

The conditions of my life are excellent.

I am satisfied with my life.

So far I have gotten the important things I want in life.

If I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing.

  • 35 - 31 Highly satisfied

    People who score in this range love their lives and feel that things are going very well. Your life is not perfect, but you feel it is about as good as life gets. Furthermore, just because you are satisfied does not mean you are complacent. In fact, growth and challenge might be part of the reason you are satisfied. For most people in this high-scoring range, life is enjoyable, and the major domains of life are going well - work or school, family, friends, leisure, and personal development.

  • 26 - 30 Satisfied

    People who score in this range like their lives and feel that things are going well. Of course your life is not perfect, but you feel that things are mostly good. Furthermore, just because you are satisfied does not mean you are complacent. In fact, growth and challenge might be part of the reason you are satisfied. For most people in this high-scoring range, life is enjoyable, and the major domains of life are going well - work or school, family, friends, leisure, and personal development. You can draw motivation from those areas of your life that you are dissatisfied with.

  • 20 - 25 Slightly satisfied

    You have an average score. The average of life satisfaction in economically developed nations is in this range the majority of people are generally satisfied, but have some areas where they very much would like some improvement. Some people score in this range because they are mostly satisfied with most areas of their lives but see the need for some improvement in each area. Other people score in this range because they are satisfied with most domains of their lives, but have one or two areas where they would like to see large improvements. Generally people who score in this range have areas of their lives that need improvement, but would usually like to move to a higher level by making some life changes.

  • 15 - 19 Slightly below average in life satisfaction

    People who score in this range usually have small but significant problems in several areas of their lives, or have many areas that are doing fine but one area that represents a substantial problem for them. If you have moved temporarily into this level of life satisfaction from a higher level because of some recent event, things will usually improve over time and satisfaction will generally move back up. On the other hand, if you are continually slightly dissatisfied with many areas of life, some changes might be in order. Sometimes we are simply expecting too much, and sometimes life changes are needed. Thus, although temporary dissatisfaction is common and normal, a continual level of dissatisfaction across a number of areas of life calls for reflection. Some people can gain motivation from a small level of dissatisfaction, but often dissatisfaction across a number of life domains is a distraction, and unpleasant as well.

  • 10 - 14 Dissatisfied

    People who score in this range are substantially dissatisfied with their lives. People in this range may have a number of areas that are not going well, or one or two areas that are going very badly. If life dissatisfaction is a response to a recent event such as bereavement, divorce, or a significant problem at work, you will probably return over time to his or her former level of higher satisfaction. However, if low levels of life satisfaction have been persisting for some time then some changes might be in order both in attitudes and patterns of thinking, and probably in life activities as well. Low levels of life satisfaction in this range, if they persist, can indicate that things are going badly and life alterations are needed. Furthermore, a person with low life satisfaction in this range is sometimes not functioning well because their unhappiness serves as a distraction. Talking to a friend, a member of the clergy, a counsellor, or another specialist can often help to get moving in the right direction, although positive change will be up to you.

    However, dissatisfaction at this level is often due to dissatisfaction in multiple areas of life. Whatever the reason for the low level of life satisfaction, it may be that the help of others are needed - a friend or family member, counselling with a member of the clergy, or help from a psychologist or other counsellor. If the dissatisfaction persists, you need to change, and often others can help. Talk to your GP or contact a mental health organization.";

  • 5 - 9 Extremely dissatisfied

    People who score in this range are usually extremely unhappy with their current life. In some cases this is in reaction to some recent bad event such as the death of a loved one or unemployment. The dissatisfaction can be a response to a continuing problem, such as alcoholism or addiction. In other cases the extreme dissatisfaction is a reaction due to something bad in life such as recently having lost a loved one.

What makes you makes you happy

To understand life satisfaction scores, it is helpful to understand some of the components that go into most people's experience of happiness.

One of the most important influences on happiness is social relationships.

Men laughing
Social relationships greatly influence your happiness levels

People who score high on life satisfaction tend to have close and supportive family and friends, whereas those who do not have close friends and family are more likely to be dissatisfied.

Of course the loss of a close friend or family member can cause dissatisfaction with life, and it may take quite a time to bounce back from the loss.

Another factor that influences the life satisfaction of most people is work or school, or performance in an important role such as homemaker or grandparent.

When the person enjoys his or her work, whether it is paid or unpaid work, and feels that it is meaningful and important, this contributes to life satisfaction.

When work is going poorly because of bad circumstances or a poor fit with the person's strengths, this can lower life satisfaction.

When a person has important goals, and is failing to make adequate progress toward them, this too can lead to life dissatisfaction.

A third factor that influences the life satisfaction of most people is personal - satisfaction with the self, religious or spiritual life, learning and growth, and leisure.

Other sources of happiness

For many people these are sources of satisfaction. However, when these sources of personal worth are frustrated, they can be powerful sources of dissatisfaction.

Of course there are additional sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction - some that are common to most people such as health, and others that are unique to each individual.

Most people know the factors that lead to their satisfaction or dissatisfaction, although a person's temperament - a general tendency to be happy or unhappy - can colour their responses.

There is no one key to life satisfaction, but rather a recipe that includes a number of ingredients.

With time and persistent work, people's life satisfaction usually goes up.

People who have had a loss recover over time. People who have a dissatisfying relationship or work often make changes over time that will increase their satisfaction.

One key ingredient to happiness is social relationships, and another key ingredient is to have important goals that derive from one's values, and to make progress toward those goals.

For many people it is important to feel a connection to something larger than oneself.

When a person tends to be chronically dissatisfied, they should look within themselves and ask whether they need to develop more positive attitudes to life and the world.

Copyright by Professor Ed Diener, University of Illinois
Use is free of charge and granted by permission.



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