The Science of Happiness

The Science of Happiness

With hectic working days, demanding families and busy social lives, it can be hard to take time out for yourself. Yet scientists are recognising how important it is to look after your mental health and wellbeing, so you feel less stressed and happier. INSIDE THIS SPECIAL ISSUE YOU’LL FIND... In-depth scientific articles Interviews with leading scientists Top tips from experts on how to be happy Incredible images and fascinating maps"

United Kingdom
Immediate Media Company London Limited


the theory of happiness

Albert Einstein might be most well known for his theory of relativity, but maybe his theory of happiness is more useful to you and I. In a visit to Tokyo in 1922, Einstein jotted down his thoughts on happiness on some hotel stationery. Last year, the note sold for an incredible £1.19 million. (Who says money can’t buy happiness?!) So, what were his gems of wisdom that warrant such a price? “A calm and humble life will bring more happiness than the pursuit of success and the constant restlessness that comes with it.” Wise words indeed. Almost a century later and research is revealing why a calm and humble life really is the route to happiness. In this special edition, experts explain the strong link between lifestyle and mood: how cities affect…

how do you feel?

Warm and fuzzy inside? If so, you’re not alone. Photos of animals doing funny or cute things often make people smile. Numerous studies have shown that images of cute babies causes the release of the ‘pleasure’ chemical dopamine, which is also released when people take drugs, have sex and fall in love. Known as the ‘baby schema’ effect, dopamine is also released by visual cues in baby mammals, such as big eyes and a large head relative to body size. Meanwhile, research into our relationship with dogs has found that levels of the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin rises when we’re around our pet pooches. No wonder they’re called man’s best friend. But why do we find animals doing human actions so funny, such as the giraffe sticking its tongue out? No-one really knows. Maybe…

meet the happiest people on the planet

Once again, it’s been raining all day. It got dark hours ago. And a bitterly cold February night beckons in the city of Oslo. Many people would find all this pretty depressing. But not most Norwegians. In 2017, Norway was ranked as the happiest nation on the planet in the World Happiness Report. This might sound surprising given that in mid-winter in some parts of the country the sun never rises, so people are deprived of that supposed vital ingredient of happiness: sunshine. So what’s their secret? The annual World Happiness Report typically assesses criteria such as life expectancy, people’s freedom to make life decisions, generosity, social support, corrupt ion in government and business, and per capita income. You might think that the latter is the reason that Norwegians are so happy –…

the happiest places in the uk

The Office for National Statistics wanted to find out the happiness levels of people in the UK. Participants answered four questions, using a scale from zero to 10. Here, we’ve listed the UK’s five happiest and five unhappiest places, which were ranked according to the results. If you can’t see your area then visit for a more in-depth map of the UK. Do you live in the happiest (or unhappiest) area? Let us know your thoughts by sending an email to or drop us a message on Twitter @sciencefocus…

the happiest places on the planet

This map shows how many of the world’s poorest countries are also the least happy. But there must be something good in having siestas and fiestas, as even some relatively poor nations in Latin America are just as happy as elsewhere on the planet. The US has slipped from third to 14th place over the last decade, which is being blamed on declining social support, and rising inequality and corruption. But the US still sits higher up the table than the UK, ranked 19th. KEY Self-assessed scores, where 0 equals worst possible life and 10 the best TOP 20 HAPPIEST COUNTRIES (Source: World Happiness Report 2017) 1 Norway 2 Denmark 3 Iceland 4 Switzerland 5 Finland 6 Netherlands 7 Canada 8 New Zealand 9 Australia 10 Sweden 11 Israel 12 Costa Rica 13 Austria 14 United States 15 Ireland 16 Germany 17 Belgium 18 Luxembourg 19 United Kingdom 20 Chile…

are cities bad for our mental health?

In 1950, 746 million of us lived in urban areas. By 2014, that had increased to 3.9 billion, or 54 per cent of the world’s population. According to the UN, 66 per cent of us will live in cities by 2050. There is much that is good about cities. They are highly efficient ways of focusing human activities such as business, education and research. Managed correctly, they offer substantial environmental advantages. Cities bring us into closer routine contact with other humans, and most of us seem hardwired to seek out this enhanced level of contact: we like being in cities as much as we like being around people. But while we like cities, do our bodies and brains like them too? And would more of us be happier and healthier living…