I’ve previously explained how a specific definition of happiness can be measured – here’s an example of how it’s done. The Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS) is one of many happiness measures used to quantify well being in this way.
Now you could just ask people how happy they are on a scale of 1-10, and this would get you some useful information. But the results would be slightly different depending on how you worded the question. This particular scale uses five questions and takes an average. This waters down the influence of wording. The SWLS is widely used, and a lot of the research on happiness was done using this form. I even used it myself, in my dissertation at university.
Here it is:
Below are five statements that you may agree or disgree with. 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 disgree
3 – Slightly disagree
2 – Disgree
1 – Strongly disgree
____ 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.
Add up your results and see where you are in the following list:
35 – 31 – Extremely satisfied
26 – 30 – Satisfied
21 – 25 – Slightly satisfied
20 – Neutral
15 – 19 – Slightly dissatisfied
10 – 14 – Dissatisfied
5 – 9 – Extremely dissatisfied
There are many other happiness questionnaires, but this is arguably the most widely used one. If you’re interested, you can find more of them at the Authentic Happiness website.