Can data-driven research show us how to be happy?

What is happiness? And how can we be happy? These questions are integral to the human experience, but their answers can be elusive. We can apply different perspectives to approach them, through philosophy or psychology, for example. We can also use our personal insight into our feelings and goals as we navigate life. But can we bring a scientific approach to happiness?

Meik Wiking, managing director of Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, he believes he can. The institute combines qualitative and quantitative methods to provide insights into well-being, happiness and quality of life.

His mission? Informing decision-makers in businesses and communities of the causes and effects of happiness and, in turn, making subjective well-being part of the public policy debate at the local, national and international levels.

We caught up with Meik Wiking at TNW 2022 and asked him the big questions about happiness. If you’d like to get the insights of him in full, watch the video embedded at the top of this article. Alternatively, you can watch it right here.

“Happiness is a dish with many different ingredients,” Wiking told us. “It’s about experiencing positive emotions on a daily basis, being satisfied with life in general, and having a strong sense of purpose or meaning.”

Happiness is above all an emotion, explained Wiking, and as such it is subjective. This means that individual perceptions vary, making each person the only one to judge whether they are happy or not.

So what can we do to cultivate this emotion and be happier? Wiking suggests there is an ABC to happiness as well. A stands for “act”, B stands for “belong” and C stands for “commit”. In other words, these are the three steps: doing something active, doing something together with other people, and doing something meaningful.

But is happiness just a matter of perception, or do external circumstances also play a role? And is it possible that the whole world is happier?

Click here to get his answers and watch the complete interview.