Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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Happiness Poll Follow-Up

The statistic that inspired the poll in my last entry was this one: "In mood surveys, at any random moment, around 70 percent of people say they are feeling OK," according to Nancy Etcoff, an evolutionary psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, as reported in the article "The Science of Happiness" by Craig Lambert in Harvard Magazine. I couldn't very well ask you all at "any random moment" how you're feeling, because you'd only see it at the particular moment when you were reading LiveJournal. So I just wanted to know whether most of you estimate that you feel okay (which I interpret as being equivalent to "not unpleasant" rather than necessarily "pleasant") about 70% of the time. And then for comparison, I decided to also ask how often you feel actively "pleasant."

30% of the time feeling less than okay seemed like an awful lot to me. I figure that I currently spend only about 4% to 5% of my waking moments feeling less than okay. I often spend about 10 minutes in the morning feeling mild anxiety about getting to work on time (5 minutes before leaving my apartment and then all of my 5-minute commute), and maybe 15 to 20 minutes at work feeling anxious about getting assignments done (much more on some days, but none at all on other days, and sometimes feeling mildly rushed is actually an enjoyable challenge rather than a cause of unpleasantness), and perhaps 10 to 15 minutes or so feeling mildly annoyed at home in the evenings, either at Stardust or at housework or at the Internet or at something or other. The rest of my day, I typically feel okay or better. However, after I thought about it, I realized that if you'd asked me several years ago, when I was at my previous job and had difficult people in my personal life, I'd probably have spent about 5 hours feeling bored or unappreciated at work and maybe 2 or 3 hours feeling frustrated at home, for a total of about 44% to 50% of my waking moments spent unhappy. So the fact that the 30% statistic seemed like an awful lot to me just results from the fact that my life is currently extraordinarily free of annoyances. In fact, I win the award for least time spent feeling unpleasant emotions of any of you! Quite a few of you typically spend at least 90% of your day feeling okay or better, but 95% is a barrier that's apparently quite difficult to cross. I probably only managed it myself because I have an unusually short commute.

However, cacahuate wins the award for most time spent feeling actively pleasant emotions (not just neutral), with 75% to 80%. She also wins the award for the happiest ratio between pleasant and unpleasant emotions. She comments, "I'm a pretty happy person." No kidding!

Meanwhile, rhekarid wins the award for most time spent feeling unpleasant emotions, with 85% to 90%, and the award for least time spent feeling pleasant emotions, with 0% to 5%. Naturally, therefore, he also wins the award for the most unpleasant ratio between the two. Can we all take a moment here to feel very, very sorry for rhekarid? And mail him gourmet ice cream; that might coax a bit of happiness out of him.
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