Of the 2,200 people who filed 250,000 mood status updates through the iPhone app called Track Your Happiness, those who were at their happiest were two things: highly focused and having sex. In fact, they rated their emotion level an average score of 90 on a scale of 1 to 100.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, sex turned out to produce the highest rating of any activity recorded, according to research published in Science by Harvard psychologists.
Whether they actually rated their mood mid-coitus or waited until after remains unknown, which is a shame, because it would be interesting to know whether people are actually happier during sex or after.
Perhaps the biggest surprise out of the Harvard-created Track Your Happiness project involved mind-wandering. Out of those quarter-million responses, people reported that their minds were wandering some 47 percent of the time. Again, it remains unclear whether people's minds actually wander half of their waking hours or just half the time they are using their iPhones to report on happiness levels.
Assuming the former, it turns out that the more people's minds wander, the less happy they report themselves feeling. In fact, during sex, people reported wandering thoughts only 10 percent of the time. Exercise was next best, then conversation, listening to music, followed by walking, eating, praying, meditating, and cooking.
Personal grooming, commuting, and working rounded out the bottom of the list. Sorry, dear boss and fellow bus passengers.
Another iPhone happiness tracking app, called Mappiness, gathers data from 22,000 users in the U.K. and boasts more than a million happiness ratings. For most people, Saturday at 8 p.m. ranks the highest.
The secret to happiness, the research out of Harvard suggests, is what those who engage in meditation have been saying for years: live in the moment.
"If you ask people to imagine winning the lottery, they typically talk about the things they would do--'I'd go to Italy, I'd buy a boat, I'd lay on the beach'--and they rarely mention the things they would think," Harvard Professor Daniel Gilbert recently told The New York Times. "But our data suggest that the location of the body is much less important than the location of the mind, and that the former has surprisingly little influence on the latter. The heart goes where the head takes it, and neither cares much about the whereabouts of the feet."
If you're interested in tracking your own happiness levels, or you think these findings are bull and want to prove them wrong, the researchers continue to seek more app users, and thus data.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'd like to indulge in a little daydreaming. Defying the wisdom of experts, after all, surely has a role to play.