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What Makes Us Happy?

HappinessWhat makes you happy? Actually, more to the point, what is happiness? It’s easy enough to put together a playlist of songs that make you happy or to roll off a bunch of synonyms for happy, but to define happiness beyond the things that make us individually happy – is that something that’s easily done? And once you’ve done that, would you want to stop there? Wouldn't you want to finds ways to make yourself – and your friends – happier? To research the ideas, beliefs and theories that stretch from the pursuit of happiness through to the concepts of positive mental health and wellbeing?

We spoke to five of our academics doing just that — working in the field of wellbeing and happiness. Eugenio Proto and Andrew Oswald discuss their research into the genetics behind the happiness of nations (spoiler alert: Denmark comes out on top). On a more personal level, Claire Haworth talks about her work on nature versus nurture and the roles of genetics and environment in explaining our individual levels of happiness. Sarah Stewart-Brown explains how the questions we’re asked, especially in a medical context, affect how we perceive happiness and perception of mental health problems. Finally, the late Professor Libby Burton explains her work researching architecture and the role that the buildings we live and work in play in making us happy.

Can we measure happiness?

Sarah Stewart-Brown

Is happiness in our genes?

Claire Haworth

Is happiness Danish?

Andrew Oswald & Eugenio Proto

Is happiness homemade?

Libby Burton

If you're a member of the press or media looking for expert comment on wellbeing, mental health or happiness a list of our experts available for interview is available here.