This list isn’t about being happier. Though the past 20 years have seen a huge push into happiness research, we’re taking a different direction. We’ve dug up some of the oddest and least expected facts about happiness out there. Shaman and healer methods aside (though we’ve heard they do great work), sit back and enjoy these 25 totally unexpected facts about happiness.
In heterosexual marriages, a better looking woman means a happier marriage. It seems men care about looks in a marriage more than women as a marriage with a better looking man doesn’t necessarily mean a happier one.
Drinking makes you feel good
Anyone who has drank alcohol knows its feel-good effects. It’s recently been found heavy drinkers feel more drunk than moderate drinkers when the body releases those feel good chemicals, known as endorphins, in response to alcohol. But drinking lots of booze sometimes fails to release endorphins, so take it easy!
Aside from being the “Happiest Place on Earth”, Disney also brings some unlikely couples together. The voices of Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Wayne Allwine & Russi Taylor, married each other in real life, too.
Happiness is next to Godliness
People who go to church, mosque, temple, or other religious centers report greater happiness than those who don’t. There’s even a noticeable difference between going monthly and weekly.
Money buys happiness
Didn’t expect to hear this one? Well, if you’re starving and sleeping in constant fear (think Syrian war refugees), there’s no way you can be as happy as others. We’re happier to go to bed each night with a full belly, among other things.
Money doesn't buy happiness
Wait…what about that last point? Turns out your mum was also right. Once your basic needs are covered (about $40,000 if living in the U.S.), earning more doesn’t increase your happiness significantly.
Crazy cat ladies are happier
Having a pet makes you happier. (Having 90 cats? Well, for her sake we hope so.) Petting an animal releases oxytocin in our brains. Known as the “cuddle hormone”, it makes you immediately happier. We can all use a bit more cuddle hormone.
Happy as a rat
Little Remy from Ratatouille has a secret. Tickle a rat and it will giggle like mad. Careful trying to find that rat at the greasy pizza shop, though. You need sound equipment which can pick up high-pitched sounds, like a dog whistle. Their giggles are too high for us to hear without it.
Tulips are red, tulips are blue
The Netherlands sends 20,000 tulips to Canada each year to thank the Canadians for their help in World War II, especially for sheltering of Princess Juliana in Ottawa for three years.
Dancing increases happiness
Twerk, waltz, or salsa – it doesn’t matter what you do. Get shaking and you’ll be happier.
Just an Illusion
You’re happier if you think you’re having more sex than your friends. It’s a good thing you’re sure they’re lying about how often they get some.
People in cold climates are more likely to be depressed during the long winters; it’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder. But, lying on a sunny beach in Miami sipping on a rum & coke isn’t exactly the best fix. Happiness actually peaks when it’s around 57.02° F (13.9° C) outside. Rain, wind speed, and humidity don’t have a significant impact.
People lacking social warmth, such as those feeling lonely, will substitute it with physical warmth, such as a hot bath. It’s in our genes to search for warmer things when feeling socially cold. No joke. So when we feel lonely, we take longer, warmer baths.
Baby, It's Cold Outside
This works the opposite way, too. Being physically cold can cause feelings of being socially cold (lonely). Try a beanie or some hand warmers.
This one’s not about the song, but the colour. Seeing yellow actually makes you happier. Maybe buy a yellow Corvette or paint your rooms in shades of yellow. On the flip side, anxious or depressed people more closely associate themselves with gray.
The more you hug your kids when they’re kids, the happier they grow up to be as adults. Bring on the bear hugs!
Happy means healthy
The happier you are, the more antibodies your body makes. And since continued exercise increases happiness, you can make your body into a powerhouse.
You smell different when happy
First, ew. Second, believe it or not, your body produces different chemicals when stressed or happy which also come out in your sweat.
Speaking of smelling, smelling flowers makes you happier. Researchers are investigating if it is due to the coevolution of plants & people, but, either way, a flower’s aroma promotes social interaction and behaviours.
GNH - Gross National Happiness
Bhutan, the tiny mountainous country bordering northeast India, doesn’t just use GNP to measure its success and prosperity as a nation, but also Gross National Happiness. To increase happiness, they work on environmental preservation and play soothing music instead of school bells to mark a period change.
Cows can be happier
Cows love music just like we do. When played calm, soothing music, cows produced more milk than when not listening to music. And R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts” had milk production skyrocketing. Maybe there are hipster cows, too.
A happiness quote
“Happiness is like peeing in your pants. Everyone can see it, but only you can feel its warmth.”
Fake it 'til you make it
If you force yourself to laugh (a fake laugh) for long enough, at some point you will genuinely start laughing.
The voice of Winnie the Pooh, Jim Cummings, calls kids fighting cancer in hospitals to cheer them up. As Winnie, he tells them how brave they are and that he loves them.
Smiling is in our genes
People born blind smile too, even though they’ve never seen another person’s smile.