By: Susan Heckler
If you are happy and you know it take a bow, clap your hands, stamp your feet or however you would like to celebrate. Authors Ed Diener, Robert A. Emmons, Randy J. Larsen and Sharon Griffin wrote an article in the Journal of Personality Assessment in 1985 to measure global cognitive judgments of satisfaction with one’s life.
In one minute’s time after responding to 5 questions, you may have a new understanding of how satisfying you see your life to be. Using the 1 – 7 scale below, indicate your agreement with each item by placing the appropriate number on the line preceding that item.
Please be open and honest in your responding.
7 – Strongly agree
6 – Agree
5 – Slightly agree
4 – Neither agree nor disagree
3 – Slightly disagree
2 – Disagree
1 – Strongly disagree
____ In most ways my life is close to my ideal.
____ The conditions of my life are excellent.
____ I am satisfied with my life.
____ So far I have gotten the important things I want in life.
____ If I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing.
Although this study is almost 30 years old, the questions are broad enough to encompass any time period and location, making it useful anywhere and everywhere.
Notice that you are answering the questions about your own life. It is your opinion of your own happiness that counts. If others perceive you as happy and you do not, in your heart and head you are not satisfied with your life.
The Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS) is a single scale that is used by UNESCO, the CIA, the New Economics Foundation, the WHO, the Veenhoven Database, the Latinbarometer, the Afrobarometer, and the UNHDR to measure how one views his or her self-esteem, well-being and overall happiness with life. The SWLS is a global measure of life satisfaction.
It has been determined that one of the most important influences on happiness is social relationships. People who score high on life satisfaction tend to have close and supportive family and friends, whereas those who do not have close friends and family are more likely to be dissatisfied.
According to Live Happy Magazine, another factor that influences the life satisfaction of most people is work or school, or performance is an important role such as homemaker or grandparent. This relates to your goals and your attempt to achieve them.
Many find satisfaction with the self, religious or spiritual life, learning and growth, and leisure are a big determining factor of happiness.
The explanation of your score was copyrighted by Ed Diener, February 13, 2006 as follows:
30 – 35: Very high score, highly satisfied
Respondents who score in this range love their lives and feel that things are going very well. Their lives are not perfect, but they feel that things are about as good as lives get. Furthermore, just because the person is satisfied does not mean she or he is complacent. In fact, growth and challenge might be part of the reason the respondent is satisfied. For most people in this high-scoring range, life is enjoyable, and the major domains of life are going well—work or school, family, friends, leisure and personal development.
25 – 29: High score
Individuals who score in this range like their lives and feel that things are going well. Of course their lives are not perfect, but they fell that things are mostly good. Furthermore, just because the person is satisfied does not mean she or he is complacent. In fact, growth and challenge might be part of the reason the respondent is satisfied. For most people in this high-scoring range, life is enjoyable, and the major domains of life are going well—work or school, family, friends, leisure and personal development. The person may draw motivation from the areas of dissatisfaction.
20 – 24: Average score
The average of life satisfaction in economically developed nations is in this range—the majority of people are generally satisfied, but have some areas where they very much would like some improvement. Some individuals score in this range because they are mostly satisfied with most areas of their lives but they see the need for some improvement in each area. Other respondents score in this range because they are satisfied with most domains of their lives, but have one or two areas where they would like to see large improvements. A person scoring in this range is normal in that they have areas of their lives that need improvement. However, an individual in this range would usually like to move to a higher level by making some life changes.
15 – 19: Slightly below average in life satisfaction
People who score in this range usually have small but significant problems in several areas of their lives, or have many areas that are doing fine but one area that represents a substantial problem for them. If a person has moved temporarily into this level of life satisfaction from a higher level because of some recent event, things will usually improve over time and satisfaction will generally move back up. On the other hand, if a person is chronically slightly dissatisfied with many areas of life, some changes might be in order. Sometimes the person is simply expecting too much, and sometimes life changes are needed. Thus, although temporary dissatisfaction is common and normal, a chronic level of dissatisfaction across a number of areas of life calls for reflection. Some people can gain motivation from a small level dissatisfaction, but often dissatisfaction across a number of life domains is a distraction, and unpleasant as well.
10 – 14: Dissatisfied
People who score in this range are substantially dissatisfied with their lives. People in this range may have a number of domains that are not going well, or one or two domains that are doing very badly. If life dissatisfaction is a response to a recent event such as bereavement, divorce, or a significant problem at work, the person will probably return over time to his or her former level of higher satisfaction. However, if low levels of life satisfaction have been chronic for the person, some changes are in order—both in attitudes and patterns of thinking, and probably in life activities as well. Low levels of life satisfaction in this range, if they persist, can indicate that things are going badly and life alterations are needed. Furthermore, a person with low life satisfaction in this range is sometimes not functioning well because their unhappiness serves as a distraction. Talking to a friend, member of the clergy, counselor, or other specialist can often help the person get moving in the right direction, although positive change will be up to the person.
5 – 9: Extremely Dissatisfied
Individuals who score in this range are usually extremely unhappy with their current life. In some cases this is in reaction to some recent bad event such as widowhood or unemployment. In other cases, it is a response to a chronic problem such as alcoholism or addiction. In yet other cases the extreme dissatisfaction is a reaction due to something bad in life such as recently having lost a loved one. However, dissatisfaction at this level is often due to dissatisfaction in multiple areas of life. Whatever the reason for the low level of life satisfaction, it may be that the help of others are needed—a friend or family member, counseling with a member of the clergy, or help from a psychologist or other counselor. If the dissatisfaction is chronic, the person needs to change, and often others can help.
The Satisfaction with Life Index was created by Adrian G. White, in an attempt to show life satisfaction in different nations. The results are both surprising and fascinating, you would never believe where the grass may be greener: