Will Happiness Find Us?

What does “home” mean to you? How much do you trust your neighbours? Do you feel responsible for conserving the natural environment? Subjective evaluations of well-being increasingly affect design at different scales, from material specifications to urban policies. Self-care displaces care for the common good, and happiness, once a tenet underpinning the post-war social-democratic project, becomes a commodity. Navigating the shift from collective welfare to individual well-being, this issue presents a “happiness industry” as expansive as its evasive subject. Will I find happiness? Could happiness find me? Does architecture aid, or hinder, the search?

The title of this issue is a nod to the book Will happiness find me? by Peter Fischli and David Weiss.

Article 2 of 6

Consolidated Happiness

A survey of surveys

In the last decade, a proliferation of happiness and well-being surveys has provided the backbone to a growing field of happiness research. Deployed at various scales (office, city, nation, world), these surveys put forth questions about feelings and moods, often in reference to personal matters such as finances, community, and worldview. It is through a mass accumulation of imperfect data, especially over time, that trends emerge. The information that can be deduced from survey responses does not always explicitly answer the questions posed: for example, one person’s answer to a question about sense of community may indicate their perception of their own relationships, and a larger pool of answers from one location may reveal an informal social support network. Thus the work of the survey is complicated both in its making and in its production of data—the choice of which questions to ask, the use of specific syntax and terminology, and the assumption of cultural biases must all be considered.

To question the survey, to question the question, and to question the act of answering a question, we constructed a hybrid survey. The questions here were gathered and reproduced from a selection of regional and national surveys utilized in recent efforts to quantify happiness as a metric of societal progress. The survey was sent out to twenty-two individuals (CCA and external collaborators) who are contributing to the project, Our Happy Life; sixteen responded, anonymously.

1.  What are your objectives for working? Please select one answer that is closest to your attitude.1


  1. Cabinet Office, Public Opinion Survey on the Life of the People (Tokyo: Government of Japan, 2017), question 15. 

50.0%  Earn money
06.3%  Fulfill my responsibility as a member of society
12.5%  Demonstrate my talents and capabilities
31.3%  Find my purpose in life

2.  Thinking about how much time you have to yourself, how often is there enough time during the day to do everything you need or want to do?1


  1. Canadian Index of Wellbeing, Be Well: A Survey of Your Wellbeing (Waterloo: University of Waterloo, 2017), question 21. 

3.  Overall, to what extent do you feel that the things you do in your life are worthwhile?1


  1. UK Office for National Statistics Annual Population Survey 2015, question 69. 

4.  With regard to your income and free time, would you like to increase the amount of free time you have, or would you like to increase your income?1


  1. Cabinet Office, Public Opinion Survey on the Life of the People (Tokyo: Government of Japan, 2017), Question 17. 

62.5%  Increase the amount of free time
25.0%  Increase my income
12.5%  Neither
     0%  I do not know

5.  What does “home” mean to you? Please select all applicable answers.1


  1. Cabinet Office, Public Opinion Survey on the Life of the People (Tokyo: Government of Japan, 2017), Question 14. 

6.  How many times in the past week has your family (for example, your children and/or partner, people you live with) had a meal together?1


  1. Canadian Index of Wellbeing, Be Well: A Survey of Your Wellbeing (Waterloo: University of Waterloo, 2017), question 20. 

12.5%  None
18.8%  1 to 2 times
12.5%  3 to 4 times
06.3%  5 to 6 times
18.8%  7 times or more
31.3%  Not applicable

7.  How satisfied are you with durable consumer goods such as automobiles, electrical appliances, and furniture of your life? Please select one answer.1


  1. Cabinet Office, Public Opinion Survey on the Life of the People (Tokyo: Government of Japan, 2017), question 11. 

37.5%  Satisfied
43.8%  Somewhat satisfied
06.3%  Somewhat dissatisfied
12.5%  Dissatisfied
     0%  I do not know

8.  Compared to the general public, what do you think is the standard of living for your household?1


  1. Cabinet Office, Public Opinion Survey on the Life of the People (Tokyo: Government of Japan, 2017), question 9. 

12.5%  High
43.8%  Upper middle
37.5%  Middle
06.3%  Lower middle
     0%  Low

9.  How much do you trust your neighbours?1


  1. Royal Government of Bhutan, The Third Gross National Happiness Survey Questionnaire (Thimphu: Centre for Bhutan Studies and GNH Research, 2014), question 97. 

50.0%  Trust most of them
25.0%  Trust some of them
25.0%  Trust a few of them
     0%  Trust none of them
     0%  Not applicable

10.  Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you cannot be too careful in dealing with people?1


  1. Canadian Index of Wellbeing, Be Well: A Survey of Your Wellbeing (Waterloo: University of Waterloo, 2017), question 7. 

37.5%  Most people can be trusted
50.0%  You cannot be too careful in dealing
with people
12.5%  Do not know

11.  How many people are very close to you that you can count on them if you are sick? Answer in number of people.1


  1. Royal Government of Bhutan, The Third Gross National Happiness Survey Questionnaire (Thimphu: Centre for Bhutan Studies and GNH Research, 2014), question 22. 

12.  How many people are very close to you that you can count on them if you have financial problems? Answer in number of people.1


  1. Royal Government of Bhutan, The Third Gross National Happiness Survey Questionnaire (Thimphu: Centre for Bhutan Studies and GNH Research, 2014), question 22. 

13.  How much of the time over the past four weeks have you felt so down in the dumps that nothing could cheer you up?1


  1. European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions Survey 2013, Bulgaria questionnaire, question M12. 

     0%  All of the time
     0%  Most of the time
12.5%  Some of the time
37.5%  A little of the time
50.0%  None of the time

14.  Do you consider Karma in the course of your daily life?1


  1. Royal Government of Bhutan, The Third Gross National Happiness Survey Questionnaire (Thimphu: Centre for Bhutan Studies and GNH Research, 2014), question 39. 

12.5%  Regularly
37.5%  Occasionally
06.3%  Rarely
43.8%  Not at all

15.  Do you have any of the following problems related to the place where you live? Check all that apply.1


  1. European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions Survey 2016, Finland questionnaire, question A32. 

16.  Do you feel responsible for conserving the natural environment?1


  1. Royal Government of Bhutan, The Third Gross National Happiness Survey Questionnaire (Thimphu: Centre for Bhutan Studies and GNH Research, 2014), question 106. 

43.8%  Highly responsible
56.3%  Somewhat responsible
     0%  A little responsible
     0%  Not at all responsible

17.  Please consider the last four weeks. You have been feeling reasonably happy, all things considered:1


  1. Royal Government of Bhutan, The Third Gross National Happiness Survey Questionnaire (Thimphu: Centre for Bhutan Studies and GNH Research, 2014), question 34. 

37.5%  More than usual
50.0%  Same as usual
12.5%  Less than usual
     0%  Much less than usual

18.  Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?1


  1. UK Office for National Statistics Annual Population Survey 2015, question 70. 

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