What makes you happy?

Gardening is highlighted as one of lifes pleasures in a new survey. Picture: PA

Gardening is highlighted as one of lifes pleasures in a new survey. Picture: PA - Credit: PA

Time spent with my grandchildren, walking the dog while breathing in the countryside or burying myself in a book are occupations that fill me with pleasure. But they are not high on everybody's contentment league, a big new survey states.

A study by the University of Sussex and the London School of Economics into what makes Britons happy says that we are much more likely to enjoy birdwatching, gardening, the theatre or going for a run than romping with the kids.

It is an interesting survey. The researchers asked more than 20,000 people to download an app that sent them a 'ping' at various times of the day and invited them to record their happiness levels and what they were doing at that moment.

A University of Sussex economist, Dr George MacKerron, who created the app, says that although many people claim to enjoy their work, the data shows that they are happier doing almost anything other than working. The most pleasurable experience reported is, unsurprisingly, lovemaking but it doesn't say how many were 'pinged' while involved in this. It also doesn't surprise me that a lot of people are made happy by going to the theatre or a concert.

Talking and socialising, singing and performing, hiking, hunting and fishing are also given a keen happiness rating.

The study, published in The Economic Journal, explodes the old myth that the British love to queue. Being made to wait or queue is the fifth most unpopular activity among the other unhappy things, like being sick in bed, travelling, commuting and housework.

The average user in the study responded about 60 times, allowing the researchers, it is said, to build a picture over time compared with a single survey which offers only a one-off snapshot. However, they warn that because it was smartphone-based, the people responding were generally wealthier, younger and more likely to be employed or in full-time education than the UK population as a whole.

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When you consider the alleged popularity of Facebook and Twitter, it is unexpectedly rewarding to discover that this survey group finds browsing social media a less than fulfilling experience.

However, one might want to question a study that says going to church or visiting a museum makes people happier than spending time with their children.

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