Last week, an article that was actually published nearly a month ago on Chatelaine.com passed through my Facebook feed four times in two days. The article, titled “The three times people are happiest—you may be surprised,” rather vaguely discussed a research project out of the London School of Economics that was mapping happiness levels associated with various activities—and the results, per the article, indicated that, behind sex and exercise, the next most happiness-inducing activity was attending the theatre.
This landed with a big thud inside my head, as it sits so squarely next to a lot of the work we’re trying to do to understand the impacts, effects and benefits of the arts beyond the economic, so I did a little research and discovered that the project is called the Mappiness Project and it is the graduate work of an LSE researcher named George MacKerron. And I emailed him, he emailed back, and we chatted briefly.
So here’s the shocker—the Chatelaine article, and the Marie Claire article it’s based on, left out potentially the most amazing part of MacKerron’s (very preliminary) results so far. Of the top six most happiness-inducing activities, again after sex and exercise, the other four are all arts-related. They are, in descending order:
1) Intimacy/making love