I always thought happiness was unquantifiable—it was just a random, pleasant emotion that came and went, depending on whether it was raining or I’d recently eaten a really good sandwich. But according to psychologist Christopher Peterson, the creator of the Authentic Happiness Inventory Questionnaire, your level of overall happiness can be measured on a scale of 1 (least happy) through 5 (most happy).
Peterson created the 24-question quiz to determine your level of “authentic happiness,” a term that measures the happiness you choose to feel in three distinct areas: positive emotion (feeling warmth, pleasure and comfort), engagement (staying present and in the moment) and meaning (fulfilling your life’s purpose). There’s even a “happiness” course at Yale that requires its students to take the quiz as a prerequisite.
I took the test—it’s free, so it’s worth a shot, right?—and was surprised by my results. I always consider myself a fairly cheery person, but I’d somehow scored a 2.7. I guess the quiz couldn’t see through my sarcastic cynicism, and I had a hard time choosing answers like “I have so much enthusiasm that I feel I can do most anything” with a straight face. So I put the entire PureWow office to the test, and as it turns out, it’s a lot harder to get a 5 than I expected.
Our office averaged a 3.53 overall, with the top scorers just barely cracking a 4. I also noticed that the sales department seemed to be the happiest overall, with editorial team as a whole scoring significantly lower—could socializing with clients and closing deals be a more fulfilling way to spend the day than scanning copy for errant commas?
But most importantly, I wanted to know: How do the high scorers stay so darn joyful all the time? I polled the top five to find out if they have anything in common, and several of them consider regular exercise, making lists and being kind to others as an important part of their daily routine.
See how the five happiest people scored, and read their secrets to staying in a state of near-constant bliss.
Margurite, Director of Brand Partnerships (4.17)
“I love trying different ways to exercise to keep me on my toes. I love running, and I try to work out about three to five times a week. I also deal with migraines, so I was forced to get to know my body really well in my early 20s—sadly, one of my triggers is wine, but staying away from it has helped me so much.”
Sydney, Editorial Intern (4.13)
“I spend at least 30 minutes every day playing with my dogs, usually more if I have the time. I try to not look at my phone before I get out of bed in the morning so that I have some time without technology before I start my day. I look for the silver lining in any negative situation because my mom always says that everything happens for a reason and I truly believe that. I also never dwell on anything negative that happens, especially if I can’t change the situation (another lesson I learned from my mom).”
Phil, Senior Editor, Trends and Entertainment (3.79)
“I work out about five times a week—it’s so nice to go to work after already having warmed up my body. I love making physical, written to-do lists, because there’s nothing more satisfying than crossing something off that list. I’m quick to say I’m sorry and forgive people; there’s no point in holding on to guilt or grudges. That guilt can ruin your day/month/year. Oh, and I treat myself. It doesn’t mean I go overboard, but sometimes I want ice cream on my waffles, and dammit, I deserve it.”
Susannah, Director of Brand Partnerships (3.79)
“Comparison is poop. Try not to compare yourself to others. It just makes you sad and think about things you don’t have. In reality, you don’t need those things. Your life is fabulous as is. Remind yourself how lucky you are to be living life, and how lucky you are to have experienced the things you’ve experienced. Whenever I get into a bad mood, I say this to myself: ‘This is dumb. Go back to being happy. Happy is better.’”
Corley, Executive Assistant (3.79)
“I’m generous on social media. I like and comment kind things on lots of other people’s posts, so they always pay back in kind (which feels so great). Every day, I also ask myself, ‘what’s one good thing you can do for yourself today?’ I also love making lists—all different kinds, like goals to achieve, music to listen to and books to read. I feel so accomplished when I can see the progress.”