Happiness Measure: The Satisfaction With Life Scale

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.


  • Hi there

    I should probably have done this a while back, but I seem to be reading your posts somewhat hap-hazardly 😉

    Very interesting. I’m more satisfied than I thought – yay!

    Useful to pass on.

  • 6 – In most ways my life is close to my ideal.
    I am so happy with the way things have turned out so far!

    7 – The conditions of my life are excellent.
    I am so blessed with a husband, dog, and a home!

    7 – I am satisfied with my life.
    It’s seems to be perfect!

    5 – So far I have gotten the important things I want in life.
    I really want to travel more!

    6 – If I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing.
    There is only one thing I would change, but for the most part nothing!

    This was fun!

  • john kerr says:

    I could never figure out why people use scales to rate happiness. You are either happy, or you are not happy. You are either content, or discontented, you are either peaceful, or anxious. The three are interdependent. Much like, how honest are you on a scale…..you are either honest or dishonest, period! Of course that conclusion is an individual reality, not a collective reality….as is all the other “ratings” one should give ones self.

    • Warren Davies says:


      Really, you don’t think there are degrees of happiness? There’s no such thing as pretty happy, moderately happy, very happy, delighted, ecstatic? These are all the same thing?

      • john kerr says:


        I suppose it may just be a matter of “language”. I see happiness as a constant, along with contentment, and a sense of peacefulness. I see the levels you are pointing out, as enjoyment, fun, pleasure, transient things. They are a result of circumstance for the most part, and are very welcome things….but happiness is not, or should not, be dependent on transient things, at least in my way of seeing it for myself. Thank you for sparking a thought that I can “enjoy”. 🙂

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