Over the holidays I spent a weekend vacationing in San Francisco with my lovely wife. We had a great time eating and drinking our way around the City by the Bay. I brought back a wonderful souvenir: a tin of excellent coffee beans from one of the many cafes I wandered in to that weekend.
I truly enjoyed the coffee, the simple presentation of the beans in the tin, and the memories of the great breakfast we had at their cafe. (Food/drink is always my favorite souvenir). I enjoyed it so much, I made this silly "graph" charting my happiness as I opened and sampled the coffee a few days before Xmas.
Can we really quantify happiness?
I know research has been done on quantifying pain, and the state of happiness does release lots of unique chemicals into the brain. But happiness is a complex and often subtle emotion. In what way does elation differ from stoic satisfaction?
Of course, I'm not the only one considering such questions. Given how important happiness (and its many variants) is to quality of life, health, stress, and consumerism, I'd imagine it's an important area of research.
It is also a topic of frequent pseudo-charts, like mine above. Here are a few from PhD comics to amuse: Work output vs time, Vacation vs stress, Motivation level vs time. My first officemate in gradschool also once drew "Happiness vs Time in Gradschool". It was an illuminating, albeit somewhat depressing, visualization.
I invite your thoughts, links to relevant literature, or links to other good pseudo-charts on the subject in the comments below!