3 Minute Monday – Data-Driven Happiness, NASA & Beauty

3 Minute Monday

Hi friend,

What things in life truly make us happy in life is a difficult question.

The things we think will make us happy in advance often end up being hollow when they arrive.

And there is a large chunk of things we often don’t think to do which would actually give us tremendous joy.

Mappiness is a study by George MacKerron and Susana Mourato.

It tracked 3 million happiness measures from more than 60,000 people to create the most complete picture of happiness tracking that exists.

It asked people what they were doing, who they were with, and how happy they felt.

Below is the full list. The number after each activity is the gain in happiness relative to not doing the activity.


  1. Intimacy/Making Love 14.2 
  2. Theatre/Dance/Concert 9.29 
  3. Exhibition/Museum/Library 8.77 
  4. Sports/Running/Exercise 8.12 
  5. Gardening 7.83 
  6. Singing/Performing 6.95 
  7. Talking/Chatting/Socialising 6.38 
  8. Birdwatching/Nature Watching 6.28 
  9. Walking/Hiking 6.18 
  10. Hunting/Fishing 5.82 
  11. Drinking Alcohol 5.73 
  12. Hobbies/Arts/Crafts 5.53 
  13. Meditating/Religious Activities 4.95 
  14. Match/Sporting Event 4.39 
  15. Childcare/Playing with Children 4.1 
  16. Pet Care/Playing with Pets 3.63 
  17. Listening to Music 3.56 
  18. Other Games/Puzzles 3.07
  19. Shopping/Errands 2.74 
  20. Gambling/Betting 2.62 
  21. Watching TV/Film 2.55 
  22. Computer Games/iPhone Games 2.39 
  23. Eating/Snacking 2.38 
  24. Cooking/Preparing Food 2.14 
  25. Drinking Tea/Coffee 1.83 
  26. Reading 1.47 
  27. Listing to Speech/Podcast 1.41 
  28. Washing/Dressing/Grooming 1.18 
  29. Sleeping/Resting/Relaxing 1.08 
  30. Smoking 0.69 
  31. Browsing the Internet 0.59 
  32. Texting/Email/Social media 0.56 
  33. Housework/Chores/DIY −0.65 
  34. Traveling/Commuting −1.47 
  35. In a Meeting, Seminar, Class −1.5 
  36. Admin/Finances/Organising −2.45 
  37. Waiting/Queueing −3.51 
  38. Care or Help for Adults −4.3 
  39. Working/Studying −5.43 
  40. Sick in Bed −20.4 

10x more happiness from being in nature than texting or using social media.

And 4x more happiness from enjoying experiences than purchasing things.

Also from Mappiness, below is the gain in happiness from being with different types of people, relative to being alone:


Romantic partner 4.51 
Friends 4.38 
Other family members 0.75 
Clients, customers 0.43 
Children 0.27 
Colleagues, classmates −0.29 
Other people participant knows −0.83 

I’m surprised by the low score for time with children.

Perhaps in the moment children are difficult, but are meaningful and make you happy over the long term.


The data is there, the more you do stuff higher up those lists, the happier you are.

The further you move away from it, the less chance you’re giving yourself to be happy.

When I think about how I spend most of my time, I’ve got a good bit of work to do.

If you like this insight, buy a copy of Seth Stephens-Davidowitz’s new book Don’t Trust Your Gut, it’s spectacular.


I do a podcast which is a front for a cult. You should subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

This week’s upcoming episodes:

Ethan Kross – a world expert in controlling your inner voice explains what his lab has discovered about improving your self talk and reducing mental chatter.

Kit Chellel – the crazy fraud story of a $100,000,000 supertanker which was burned at sea. A really fascinating true crime story.

Not sure yet. Maybe Tim Kennedy on being one of the hardest men on the planet.


Liars are gonna lie.

A sample of a thousand American adults found that on average people claimed to tell around 550 lies a year – slightly more than one and a half lies a day.

But not everyone behaved the same.

Nearly a quarter of all the lies were told by just 1 per cent of the people sampled.

In other words, the 1 per cent of habitual liars were telling nearly forty lies a day.

Beauty standards are much more evolved than cultural.

There has been a claim recently that beauty standards are completely created by culture, rather than grounded in our evolutionary past.

This is the Nurture Only view.

“As soon as we pop the red pill of the evolutionary psychological perspective, however, the Nurture Only view becomes a lot more difficult to swallow.

Suddenly, we have to accept not only that our beauty standards are learned, but also that it’s purely a coincidence that they map onto evolutionarily relevant variables such as health and fertility.

Suddenly we have to explain why these supposedly arbitrary standards are found in every culture where scientists have looked for them.

Suddenly we have to figure out why principles that apply right across the animal kingdom – principles such as that animals evolve a preference for healthy, fertile mates – don’t apply to our species.

And suddenly we have to explain why, if these principles don’t apply to us, it looks exactly as if they do.” — Steve Stewart-Williams

NASA knows their shit.

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft passed Pluto in 2015 within one minute of what it predicted when it launched in 2006. 

Three billion miles, 99.99998% accurate.

h/t Morgan Housel


MyProtein Impact Week.

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45% discount with code MODERNWISDOM is enabled if you shop through the link below.

Shop on MyProtein.

Big love,
Chris x

Join the Modern Wisdom Community.

Back to the UK next week for the first time in 3 and a half months. I’ve never been away from home for this long, I left in February for the JBP episode. Wild.


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