How happy are you?

Sara Wilson

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“I’m most happy when I’m lollygagging in class, drawing a pumpkin or something,” sophomore Michael Diamantes said.

However, drawing pumpkins in class might not be the thing that makes everyone happy. According to a January 2016 Nonfiction survey taken by 10 percent of Redwood students, many factors may contribute to the happiness of Redwood students.

The survey asked them to rate their happiness on a scale of one to ten, ten being the highest. There were additional questionsabout aspects of the students’ lives such as number of siblings and GPA. The objective was to find trends that show how happiness correlates to these factors.

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[Note: A correlation does not necessarily mean that there is a cause and effect relationship. For example, students with higher GPAs were happier than those with lower GPAs, but this does not necessarily mean that higher grades lead to happiness, nor that happiness leads to higher grades.]

The average happiness rating for Redwood students was a 7.2.  The happiest group of students was sophomore boys, with an average rating of 7.6, while the least happy were sophomore, junior, and senior girls with an average of 7.0.

 

Sleep:

Many parents regularly remind their teenagers to get more sleep, and according to the survey, getting more sleep may be related to students’ happiness levels.

Students who said they received fewer than six hours of sleep reported an average happiness of 6.7. Students who slept an average of seven to nine hours per night increased their rating to 7.4.

Some students who reported feeling more rested also had an increased level of happiness, such as sophomore Cora Cicala.

“I normally get seven to eight hours [of sleep] and I used to get a lot less. I noticed I’ve been a lot more energetic, and I guess happier, now that I’ve started to get more,” Cicala said.

 

GPA:

GPA may matter in more than just your transcript, as those who reported higher grades also reported higher happiness levels.

Students who reported having a GPA between 2.6 and 3.5 had an average happiness rating of 7.1, while students who had a GPA between 3.6 and 4.0 had an average of 7.3. Happier still were the students with a 4.0 GPA or higher, who reported an average of 7.9.

“I feel like overall grades play a big part [in happiness],” Cicala said. “If I don’t do well in a grading period that will really get me down. But individual tests I’m good at pushing off and not really thinking about it.”

 

Course load:

Many students debate how challenging they want to make their schedule while maintaining a sound state of mind.

Students taking no AP and Honors classes reported the highest happiness levels with an average of 7.3. For those taking one to four AP and Honors classes, the happiness level was an average of 7.0. The students who were taking more than five AP and Honors classes had a happiness level of 6.8.

Sophomore Isabella Lui likes taking more challenging classes because she believes that they have more of a problem-solving aspect.

“I love solving deep problems, and in each and every one of my classes at some point or another, there is an opportunity to apply strategy, analytics, and rationality to come up with good solutions,” Lui said.

Junior Jeremy Goldwasser, who takes five AP and Honors courses, said taking advanced classes was worthwhile, despite the heavy workload.

“I think there’s a lot of personal satisfaction knowing that you’re capable of taking on a heavy workload and having some success in it. Personally, it helps a lot with self-esteem,” Goldwasser said.  

 

Sports:

People who reported playing at least one sport had a significantly higher happiness level than those who did not. Those who didn’t play sports had an average happiness of 6.5, while those who played one to three sports reported an average happiness of 7.3.

“School is stressful so it’s always nice to have something outside of school like sports. They help take my mind off school and make me happy,” said junior Trevor Foehr, who plays football and baseball.

 

Dating:

Students in a relationship reported an average happiness level of 7.5, followed by those who were previously in a relationship
with a reported level of 7.3 on average. Those who have never been in a relationship had the lowest happiness average at 7.0.

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“Dating is fun, but it is really time consuming. Time is one of the things that really affects my happiness because it has to do with sleep. Overall, dating makes me a happier person, a kinder person, and a more compassionate person,” Lui said, even though she gets less sleep.

 

Social Activity:

“[Making other people laugh], that’s the best thing for me. Honestly, that’s what makes me happiest in life. Seeing other people laugh, that makes me smile,” sophomore Jackson Westbrook said.

A fairly consistent trend emerged between time spent with friends and happiness levels. Those who never spent time with friends had an average happiness of 3.3, and those who often spent time with friends had an average happiness of 7.5.

 

Siblings:

There was a strong increase in happiness from those who had zero siblings to those who had four. Those with zero siblings had a happiness average of 6.9 and students with three to four siblings had an average of 7.5.

“[My siblings] are some of my best friends for sure. Family is very important, not just for happiness but also for a sense of belonging,” Goldwasser said.

 

Perceived wealth:

As the saying goes, you can’t buy happiness. This holds true for Redwood students, as there seemed to be little correlation between happiness and wealth perceptions. Those who perceived their wealth to be higher than that of their peers had the lowest happiness level of the category at 6.6, while those who perceived their wealth as the same as their peers had an average happiness level of 7.4. Students who perceived their wealth as lower than their peers’ had a level of 6.8.

 

Middle school:

Even though middle school is a thing of the past, which school students attended could relate to their happiness today. Students who attended Kent Middle School were the happiest with an average level of  7.5. Those who attended Hall Middle ranked second with an average of 7.3. Students who attended non-feeder middle schools were in the middle of the pack with an average of 7.1, then came Del Mar at 6.8, and lastly, Ross Middle School at 6.7.

 

Computer time:

Goldwasser discussed how computers can take up significant amounts of time without users even realizing it.

“I think the deal with time on technology is that you almost don’t catch yourself when you’re using it for unnecessary purposes,” Goldwasser said.

Computers are an unavoidable part of daily life for many high school students, and screen time can add up quickly. According to the January 2016 Nonfiction survey, just under 47 percent of students spend more than three hours on the computer per day.

Those who spent three to four hours a day on the computer had an average happiness level of 7.5. Students’ happiness dropped to 6.5 when they spent more than four hours on the computer.

 

Healthy Habits:

No correlation was found between students’ reports of drug or alcohol use and their reported level of happiness. Yet, there was a trend between healthy eating and happiness. Unhealthy foods were classified as desserts, sweets, processed foods and fast foods.

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Happiness increased as unhealthy food consumption increased up to a certain point. Those who never or rarely ate unhealthy foods reported an average of 7.6, while those who sometimes ate unhealthy foods reported their happiness as a 7.9. Students who often ate unhealthy foods only reported an average of 6.7.

 

Five years ago you were almost as happy

In 2012 Bark reporter, Mari Best surveyed Redwood students on their happiness and wrote an article based on the findings.

She found that the average happiness of the student body was 6.9

In contrast to our survey, Best found that students who did not know their GPA were the happiest, with a happiness level of 7.8. However, in this survey, students with higher than a 4.0 were happiest.

Previously, it was found that the students who took more AP and Honors classes were happier, while those who are taking zero AP and Honors classes reported the highest happiness levels in the most recent survey.

In 2012, it was reported that those who perceived their wealth as higher than their peers’ had the highest happiness at 8.0. However, in this survey it was found that those who perceived their wealth the same as their peers’ reported the highest happiness.

The past survey found that students from Hall Middle School were the happiest, followed by Del Mar, Kent, and Ross while this survey found that Kent students were happiest followed by Hall, Del Mar, and Ross.