In one of his poems, famous poet Nazım Hikmet asked his friend, famous artist Abidin Dino, "Can you paint the picture of happiness, Abidin?"
The answer was not a painting but a poem written by Abidin Dino that finished with the words:
In that case Nazım,
I would paint the picture of happiness,
But neither canvas,
Nor paint would be enough...
A summary from the Newyork Times best seller book "The Social Animal"...
In recent years, researchers have spent a lot of time investigating what makes people happy.
As Carol Graham writes in her book Happiness Around the World, Nigerians rate themselves just as happy as the Japanese, even though Japan's GDP per capita is almost 25 times higher then theirs. Living standards in the US have risen dramatically over the past fifty years. But this has produced no measurable uptick in happiness.
Winning a lottery produces a short term jolt of happiness, but the long-term effects are invisible. The happiness gain you get from moving from poor to middle class is greater than the gain you get moving from middle to upper class; the happiness curve flattens out. People aren't happiest during the middle-aged years, when they are winning the most promotions. They are happiest in their twenties and their sixties, when their careers are just starting or winding down. People who place tremendous emphasis on material well-being tend to be less happy then people who don't.
If the relationship between money and happiness is complicated, the relationship between social bonds and happiness is not. The deeper the relationships a person has, the happier he or she will be. People in long term marriages are much happier than people who aren't. According to one study, being married produces the same psychic gain as earning $100,000 a year. According to another, joining a group that meets even just once a month produces the same happiness gain as dobling your income.
People who have one recurrent sexual partner in a year are happier than people who have multiple partners in a year. People who have more friends have lower stress levels and longer lives. According tp research by Daniel Kahneman, Alan B. Krueger, David Schkade and others, the daily activities most associated with happiness are all social -having sex, socializing after work, and having diner with friends- while the daily activity most injurious to happiness -commuting- tends to be solitary.
As Roy Baumeister summarizes the evidence, "Whether someone has a network of good relationships or is alone in the world is a much stronger predictor of happiness than any other objective predictor."
The Social Animal, David Brooks, Random House, Protected content