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Happiness Studies: The Fuel for the Fire (or Why Happiness Studies Are Important to Understanding and Improving Society)

power-of-one-or-many-inspirational-graphicBy Alice Vo Edwards

I love numbers. Information that can be shared with numerical data is more inspiring than data without numerical backup. For example, which sounds more like something you’d like to support:

  • Donate money.


  • Donate money — every $1 you give will provide 3 meals.

Both of these are real examples of ask statements on the websites of two nonprofits who feed people in need in Las Vegas.

The first is on the website of St. Therese Center HIV outreach. The second is on the website of ThreeSquare and includes a graphic.

Did you find the second one more compelling? Most people do.

St. Therese brings in just $550,000 for their annual budget. ThreeSquare’s last reported revenues were over $76 million dollars for one year. While this staggering difference in financial support cannot be solely attributed to to a single marketing statement, I would argue that effective marketing is at the heart of forwarding any cause, and that using numerical, relatable references is a key aspect in creating an effective marketing campaign.

So how does this relate to happiness? Happiness, for many, can be a difficult concept to grasp well enough to open their wallets. Movements without money don’t get very far, even when staffed by volunteers. This makes it challenging for those of us in the field working to forward the importance of happiness to garner the support we need.

How can we motivate people to support Happiness Programs with their time and money to the extent that ThreeSquare has been able to garner support?

Data. We need data to make our own catchy graphics and slogans and forward our work in our communities.

Having data we can use to convey the importance of happiness in a numerical format is hugely important in how successful happiness advocates will be in forwarding advocacy efforts.

This means that participating in happiness surveys is critical to the cause of promoting happiness. By participating in happiness surveys and encouraging others to take happiness surveys, your data points provide researchers and advocates with a better picture of the overall state of happiness globally and regionally. A survey taken by 60,000 people (while still pretty dang impressive) is less powerful of a marketing tool for Happiness Advocates then one taken by 1 million people.

My plea to you: take the Gross National Happiness Index Survey at If you’re in Las Vegas or Miami, please use the group links below and register as part of the group, to help the local organizers be able to access, track, and use the local data for local Happiness advocacy efforts.

Las Vegas:

It may seem like a small contribution, but as Dr. Stephen Sroka says, “You have The Power of One to start a fire. But you need The Power of Many to keep the fire burning.”

Help us keep fueling the fire the lights up the global happiness movement by participating in and sharing the happiness survey.

If you’re really “fired up”, make your own local group through and advocate in your community for better happiness by encouraging more people to take the survey.


Alice Vo Edwards is the author of “My Best Friend Died” and “Put Away The Razor,” founder of the Lift Up Vegas project for research, education and advocacy for Happiness and Wellbeing in Las Vegas, and a strategic coach and consultant. Contact Alice at

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