opinion | The rich are not what we think. And happiness is not what we think it is.

From this, they built a sample of more than three million data points, in greater numbers than previous studies on happiness. So what do three million data points for happiness tell us?

Activities that make people happier include sex, exercise, and gardening. People get a significant increase in happiness by being with a romantic partner or friends but not with other people, such as colleagues, children or acquaintances. Weather plays only a small role in happiness, except that people do get a mood improvement on unusual days, such as those over 75°C and sunny. People are always happier when they are in nature, especially near a body of water, especially when the scenery is beautiful.

The findings from the happiness data are straightforward, frankly. When I told my friends about these studies, the most common response was, “Do we need scientists to tell us this?”

But I would argue that there is a depth to the clarity of the statements about happiness.

Sometimes big data reveals a shocking secret. Other times, big data tells us there’s no secret. And so it is with happiness.

This is critical to bear in mind for the many of us who don’t do the obvious things that make people happy. We fall into traps that the data says are unlikely to make us happy.

Many of us work hard at jobs with people we don’t like – and that’s not a potential path to happiness. Dr. McKieron and economist Alex Bryson found work to be the second most miserable activity. Of the 40 activities, only being sick in bed makes people less happy from work. Economist Stephen Levitt has found that when people are unsure whether to quit a job, they can be induced to quit. And when they quit, they reported increased happiness months later.

Many of us move to big cities and spend less time in nature – this is also not a path to happiness. A study by economists Ed Glaeser and Josh Gottlieb ranked happiness in every American metropolitan area. They found that New York City was the least happy. Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco also scored low. The happiest places include Flagstaff, Arizona; Naples, Florida, and almost all of Hawaii. And when people move from unhappy cities to happy places, they benefit by increasing happiness.

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