A study undertaken by Coca-Cola has uncovered the leading sources of happiness. The global study, which covers 16 countries and four continents, identifies what happiness means to different nationalities and reveals that, despite the rapid pace of growth in the virtual world, human contact wins hands down when it comes to happiness. People in all 16 countries agree real world contact with family and partners is a greater source of joy (77 percent) than virtual world alternatives.
Supporting this notion that human interaction, rather than virtual interaction, is a greater source of pleasure, the biggest highlights of the day include catching up with loved ones in the evening (39 percent), eating with the family (22 percent) and chatting to friends or colleagues (17 percent). Modern alternatives such as watching TV (14 percent), connecting with others online (5 percent) and receiving the day’s first text message (2 percent) paled in comparison.
“The results of the Coca-Cola Happiness Barometer show that staying connected with friends and family remains an important source of happiness for people around the world, and that this holds true across all continents and nationalities, including here in the U.S.,” said Bill Kelly, senior vice president, Coca-Cola Trademark Brands, Coca-Cola North America. “Despite the online social networking phenomenon, nothing beats quality time with loved ones or simple pleasures such as sharing a Coke with our nearest and dearest to bring happiness in our lives.”
The results also show that, despite the global economic woes, overall global happiness levels are high, with more than two thirds of people (67 percent) declaring they are satisfied with their lives.
When we do need cheering up, 38 percent of us turn to a night out with friends and more than one in five (22 percent) will give or receive a big, warm hug!
In the U.S., the study found that females are more likely than males to hug when they need cheering up (23 percent of females vs. 15 percent of males). Females are also more than three times more likely than males to shop when they need some form of happiness (14 percent of females vs. 4 percent of males, respectively). For teens in the U.S., music is important, with 18 percent saying it is a source of happiness and 22 percent saying listening to music is one of the happiest moments of the day.
To help interpret the results, Coca-Cola invited Dr. Richard Stevens, M.A., Ph. D., a social psychologist and author of Personal Worlds and Understanding the Self, who specializes in happiness and wellbeing, to provide his perspective on the findings. In his analysis, he noted, “While it is important to have enough money to live, income is a fairly irrelevant contributor to happiness. Without relationships, love, family or friendship, most people will not be content and no amount of money can fill this void.”
Striving for celebrity did not come out as a popular source of happiness in the study. The results showed that, globally, people wouldn’t choose fame and fortune to bring happiness, instead citing travelling around the world (37 percent), volunteering to help others (26 percent) and meeting the love of their life (12 percent) as being the key contributors to happiness.
"Despite our celebrity-driven culture, fame is not likely in itself to be a primary source of happiness,” added Dr. Stevens. “Our real happiness depends much more on our basic sense of self, and connecting with other people, especially through love, care and kindness.”
Of the countries studied, The Happiness Index reveals the six happiest are:
4) South Africa
6) United States