Book Excerpt: Authentic Happiness

As your voyage through this book begins, please take a quick happiness survey. This survey was developed by Michael W. Fordyce, and it has been taken by tens of thousands of people. You can take the test on the next page or go to the website www.authentichappiness.org. The website will keep track of changes in your score as you read this book, and it will also provide you with up-to-the-moment comparisons of others who have taken the test, broken down by age, gender, and education. In thinking about such comparisons, of course, remember that happiness is not a competition. Authentic happiness derives from raising the bar for yourself, not rating yourself against others.

Fordyce Emotions Questionnaire In general, how happy or unhappy do you usually feel? Check the one statement below that best describes your average happiness.

______ 10. Extremely happy (feeling ecstatic, joyous, fantastic) ______ 9. Very happy (feeling really good, elated) ______ 8. Pretty happy (spirits high, feeling good) ______ 7. Mildly happy (feeling fairly good and somewhat cheerful) ______ 6. Slightly happy (just a bit above normal) ______ 5. Neutral (not particularly happy or unhappy) ______ 4. Slightly unhappy (just a bit below neutral) ______ 3. Mildly unhappy (just a bit low) ______ 2. Pretty unhappy (somewhat "blue," spirits down) ______ 1. Very unhappy (depressed, spirits very low) ______ 0. Extremely unhappy (utterly depressed, completely down)

Consider your emotions a moment further. On average, what percentage of the time do you feel happy? What percentage of the time do you feel unhappy? What percentage of the time do you feel neutral (neither happy nor unhappy)? Write down your best estimates, as well as you can, in the spaces below. Make sure the three figures add up to 100 percent.

On average:

The percent of time I feel happy ______% The percent of time I feel unhappy ______% The percent of time I feel neutral ______%

Based on a sample of 3,050 American adults, the average score (out of 10) is 6.92. The average score on time is happy, 54.13 percent; unhappy, 20.44 percent; and neutral, 25.43 percent.

There is a question that may have been bothering you as you read this chapter: What is happiness, anyway? More words have been penned about defining happiness than about almost any other philosophical question. I could fill the rest of these pages with just a fraction of the attempts to take this promiscuously overused word and make sense of it, but it is not my intention to add to the clutter. I have taken care to use my terms in consistent and well-defined ways, and the interested reader will find the definitions in the Appendix. My most basic concern, however, is measuring happiness's constituents — the positive emotions and strengths — and then telling you what science has discovered about how you can increase them.

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