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Understanding the science of happiness

Maggie Downie
Maggie Source
Maggie Downie, owner of Personal Euphoria Pilates & Fitness, incorporates movement, and a side plank, in her travels. She is pictured here on Easter Island.

What makes life worth living? And, what does data from happiness research tell us?

Data shows Connecticut is the second happiest state in the country, after Hawaii, with a poverty rate that’s under 10 percent, a life expectancy of 80.4 years, and median household income of more than $100,000, according to research by NiceRx – which also took into account adult depression levels. In another study by WalletHub, Connecticut tied third with California for the lowest adult depression.

But researchers who study happiness say variation across places — the happiness levels between states or even countries with similar socio-economic variables – is far less than the variation between happiness levels from one person to the other.

So, what makes us happy? And what does data show to help us become happier?

This hour WWL, we hear from happiness experts, including Laurie Santos of Yale University and the Happiness Lab podcast, and Cassie Mogilner Holmes of UCLA.


Matthew Killingsworth: Director of trackyourhappiness.org and Senior Fellow, The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania

Maggie Downie: Owner of Personal Euphoria Pilates & Fitness, Health & Wellness Expert on NBC CT Live, Author of Keep Moving: Take Steps to Relieve Pain & Improve Your Life 

Dr. Hansa Bhargava: Chief Medical Officer, Medscape, Forbes Columnist, and Author of Building Happier Kids – Stress-busting tools for Parents, American Academy of Pediatrics  

Sujata Srinivasan is a Senior Producer for Where We Live, the flagship news-based, call-in talk show from Connecticut Public Radio, featuring deep dives at the intersection of data-driven narrative and investigative longform journalism.
Lucy is the Executive Producer and Host of WNPR's morning talk show, Where We Live. She’s a longtime public radio reporter covering several beats including immigration, juvenile justice and child welfare issues, education, veterans affairs and the military.