Year-long bid to find out just what makes us happy

ALL SMILES University of Portsmouth sociology lecturer Laura Hyman  is doing a study into happiness.  Picture: Allan Hutchings (120060-296)
ALL SMILES University of Portsmouth sociology lecturer Laura Hyman is doing a study into happiness. Picture: Allan Hutchings (120060-296)
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COMEDIAN Ken Dodd famously sang that it was the greatest gift that he possessed. But is it possible to measure happiness?

Sociologists at the University of Portsmouth hope so – they’ve launched a year-long scientific investigation into what helps to make us smile.

Lecturer Dr Laura Hyman is to ask 100 people in Portsmouth, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Dorset questions on topics like income, personal relationships and the environment over a year.

Even though she admits emotions are subjective, she hopes to piece together patterns that will give an insight into where and how people are at their happiest.

Dr Hyman, whose is collaborating with BBC Radio Solent for the project, said: ‘We may not come to a definitive answers but it will be interesting to see what makes people happy across this region.

‘People expect the recession and unemployment levels to have a negative impact – but in the economic downturn people with jobs may actually feel happy because they’re grateful for it. It’s important to know how people feel about themselves and their lives on a local level because a lot of good could come from it.

‘For example, if we find out people feel happier when they are part of a community, measures could be taken to create better social networks.

‘And in situations where our economic wellbeing is not high, it’s important to ensure we can raise our wellbeing in some other way.’

The survey needs volunteers to answer a set of questions every three months, and possibly in-depth interview on the radio.

Dr Hyman, of Southsea, who rates her happiness as seven out of 10 – partly as she loves to live by the sea – admitted: ‘I would fall into the trap of being very grateful for my job. Under normal circumstances I might moan that I’m overworked and had to spend Christmas marking!’

To volunteer for Happiness Hundred email your details including a name and telephone number to happytalk@bbc.co.uk.

Married people happier than singles

IF YOU’RE married, you’re more likely to have a smile on your face than someone who’s single.

And it might not always seem like it, but teenagers score highly on the happiness index – as do pensioners.

These are some of the findings of a recent nationwide survey which aimed to measure the nation’s happiness as part of the government’s £2m wellbeing project.

Results showed 76 per cent of people gave themselves seven or more out of 10 for happiness – despite being in the middle of a recession.

More than half rated their levels of anxiety at less than four out of 10 – while a quarter reported they were ‘not at all’ anxious during the previous day.

And just under three quarters of adults gave a score of seven or more out of 10 when asked how worthwhile the things they do were.

Married people are happier than single or divorced people and teens and pensioners are more content with their lives than those in their late 30s.