Two of the more paradoxical (and thus my favorite) things we’ve found in our data over the past few years both relate to happiness and its underlying ingredients. They are:
#1- On average, people who exercise more, eat healthier, travel more, stress less, and sleep longer report higher levels of happiness than people who don’t. I know. Duh. And, people WITHOUT kids are more likely than people WITH kids to do all those happy-making things. Also, duh. BUT, despite that, when we control for age, gender, and other demographics, we find that parents are much MORE likely than non-parents to report higher levels of happiness. Surprise! I did a Good Morning America gig about it once and got a deluge of hate mail from people who don’t/can’t have kids. They thought I was judging them. I wasn’t. I just reported the numbers.
#2- Happiness increases with age. Yes, teen angst is real. Thirty-somethings are all sorts of stressed out. But as people get older, their level of happiness improves, peaking in their 50s, 60s, and beyond. By then, presumably, we’re financially-secure, steeped in perspective, and comfortable in our own skin. Makes sense. Here’s the twist: 74% of Gen Xers and 72% of Baby Boomers say they would go back in time, if they could – ostensibly to a point in their lives when they were LESS happy, overall, than they are today. Why?
I’ve thought a lot about that since my college reunion a few weeks ago. It did feel like going back in time. And I loved it. But it also took me awhile to recover – and I don’t just mean the hangover, though that was epic too. The nostalgia was harder to shake.
A friend said to me after that weekend “I feel like what reunions do is make you all sorts of nostalgic for the things you did and didn’t do.” The last two words stuck with me. While I can picture all my best college moments like they happened a minute ago, I seemed to forget all the things I didn’t do – or the things I regretted. Subconsciously, I guess they just disappeared.
Maybe that’s one of the reasons we get happier with age. Time cements our fondest memories, washes away our regrets, and makes us look past the things we can no longer do – like sleep more, exercise more, or party more – and replaces them with new and better things, like self-assurance, peace of mind…and kids.
I like being 42 and knowing that my happiest days are still to come.
But I’ll still go back in time every chance I get, as long as I can return to the present – and as long as my liver can still handle it.
And that, my friends, is the deepest this little email will ever get. Here are a few lighter things we’re seeing right now:
Happiness is also very closely correlated with another thing – saying the phrase “Dilly Dilly.” Yeah, let’s lighten things up real quick. Some of the more culturally-meaningful research we did this week looked at the what-I-thought-was-ubiquitous “Dilly Dilly” rallying cry from the Bud Light commercials. First, I guess it’s not ubiquitous, as 39% of Americans didn’t even know what we were talking about. Outside of whatever rock those people are living under, the majority of people (54%) like it, even if they don’t say it. More importantly, people who say “Dilly Dilly” are nearly 3 times more likely than those who don’t like it OR say it to be “Very Happy”. It’s even equally true among Trump-lovers and Trump-haters, Republicans and Democrats – which is virtually unheard of today. So, Dilly Dilly!
Consumer electronics is one category where Amazon doesn’t seem to be killing it like everything else. It’s hard to find many chinks in the Amazon armor but if there’s one product sector that doesn’t seem to be growing as fast as many others, it’s in the electronics and computer space. Maybe Best Buy is one of the companies that can hold Amazon somewhat at bay. Maybe people just want to touch and feel a device before they make the investment. All I know is that we look at dozens of Amazon indicators in our data and none of the charts look like this one.
There’s really no reason to be optimistic about another professional football league. Seriously. Why anyone thinks now is a good time to launch the Alliance of American Football is so far beyond me I can’t even explain it. It certainly wasn’t based on any empirical data – or at least any data wewould put our names on. The NFL’s woes aren’t just about politics, anthem protests, or concussion woes. It’s all of those things, plus a huge young-person problem with a big side of media fragmentation. Let me know if you disagree. I have a combined brick-and-mortar video store and travel agency concept I’d like you to invest in.
Conversely, I would keep betting on Marvel comic book movies until they run out of them. With news that Black Panther toppled Titanic in its box office haul, any theories that comic book movies were losing steam sunk right along with it. Our own numbers painted an even more impressive picture. Black Panther not only brought casual movie-goers into the theater; a huge portion of the audience weren’t necessarily even action movie fans. Our data actually found that the film’s ticket-buyers over-indexed more as comedy fans than action fans. Crazy.
Uber’s growth seems to be accelerating. After a bumpy 2017, Uber looks to be regaining its mojo, with particularly noticeable gains in the past 6 months. It’s starting to break through one of the critical tech-adoption ceilings we often see in our data. Next stop: 33% penetration.
Lyft, not so much.
Random (Deep) Stat of the Week
So does this mean that being a nonconformist is now considered…conformist? Hmm.
Hoping you’re well.