It is a beautiful day, the sun is shining, my tummy if full and I must say I feel pretty happy.  Still, what makes me happy may not make you happy. In fact, although it is one of the simplest emotions, happiness can be hard to explain.

The Harris Poll set out to investigate happiness with its periodic Harris Happiness Index, an online survey of U.S. adults.

So, who happiest and what IS it that makes us happy?  Interestingly enough, in the youth-obsessed American culture, the happiest people in the U.S. are older. Among those ages 50-64, 36 percent say they are very happy, along with 41 percent of those 65 and older who say the same thing. Among younger Americans, just three in 10 say they are very happy. The least happy age group is the 30s with only 28 percent defining their lives as very happy.


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In 2013, 33 percent of Americans say they are very happy, which is the same percentage that said the same thing in 2011.

  • Among women, 35 percent say they are very happy, compared with the 32 percent of men who say the same thing.
  • By racial group, 34 percent of white Americans are very happy, 36 percent of African Americans are very happy and just 28 percent of Hispanics are very happy.
  • Who says money can't buy happiness? The higher the income, the greater the percentage of people who say they are very happy. 38 percent of those earning $100,000 a year or more say they are very happy, compared with only 29 percent of those earning $34,999 or less.
  • When it comes to education as a factor for happiness, 32 percent of those who attended some college or graduated from college say they are very happy, compared with 34 percent with a high school education and 38 percent for those who completed post-graduate work.

It turns out that people find the most happiness in their relationships with family and friends, as well as their spiritual beliefs, optimism about the future and hobbies and pastimes they enjoy.