culture / news / research

What Makes Us Happy? Stressed?

I write paleo-historic fiction. It’s tempting to concentrate on daily activities, how early man survived the weather, nature, threats, how he fed himself–those were the very appealing parts of Jean Auel’s series. But in conversations with agents and editors who should know, they don’t make for very interesting reading. People want drama and trauma. What makes early man emotional–i.e., happy and sad.

I ended up researching modern man–what makes us happy and sad. What spikes our emotional index? If I can figure that out, I’ll figure out how to capture readers.

Gallup–believe it or not–does a poll on that very topic. Here’s what makes us happy:

people's moodDo you see a trend? Holidays. We as a culture love holidays. I’m speculating here, but I’ll bet that’s why they came into being–to add a spark to man’s otherwise dull, drole lives. Add that excitement that we’ll get out of bed for.

Here’s what makes us stressed:

stressorsMy take-away from this list is we worry about that which affects us, or might affect us. The spike over Michael Jackson, though–were you stressed over his death? Not me. I had too many of my own worries. Maybe it had more to do with the US troops dying in Afghanistan–the deadliest day for U.S. forces in nearly a year

My question for you: Does this fit your experience in 2009? What made you happiest and/or stressed?

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