On the physical side, a hundred years ago doctors noticed certain interesting phenomena about people with brain injuries. If people suffered damage to the left side of the brain then they became increasingly depressed. Vice versa if the right side of the brain became damaged then people felt more elated. "Happiness" can therefore be measured in scientific ways by looking at the levels of activity in different parts of the brain.
On the emotional side, efforts made to actually measure happiness began some 25 years ago. Over the years both the research methods and skills have been honed to uncover the actual criteria that make people happier. In effect, and increasingly so, happiness can be measured.
In his book "The Four Qualities of Life" - Ruut Veenhoven classifies Life "chances" and Life "Results", then "outer" and "inner" qualities of the individual to determine his potential to reap happiness. These four qualities are (1) Livability of the environment (2) Life-ability of the individual (3) external absorption & utility of life (4) inner appreciation of life
SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING (1) (SWB)
refers to people's evaluations of their lives such as life satisfaction, moods and emotions, feelings under varying circumstances and by way of a detailed inventory of attributes measures their levels of happiness relative to others. Here the positive affect is commonly divided into joy, elation, contentment, pride, affection, happiness and ecstasy. Conversely the negative affect is separated into guilt and shame, sadness, anxiety and worry, anger, stress, depression and envy.
Life satisfaction is categorised by satisfaction with current life, satisfaction with past, satisfaction with future, significant others' views of one's life and the desire to change life.
1. Diener, 1984
OXFORD HAPPINESS INVENTORY (OHI)
In 1989 the OXFORD HAPPINESS INVENTORY (OHI) was developed as a set of 20 attributes to measure Subjective Well-Being (SWB) and this was later revised to the OHQ (Oxford Happiness Questionnaire) of 29 attributes/questions, to measure
- social interest/extraversion
- sense of purpose
- awe or aesthetic appreciation
- autonomy/locus of control
- perception of physical good health
QUALITY OF LIFE (QOL)
This is the more generic name for QUALITY OF LIFE (QOL) and is generally used to reflect a "better life" in terms of availability of happiness-inducing facilities and inputs. The term is loosely used to describe an improvement of one's situation, by both individuals and organisations who are focused on delivering more to their constituents.
Without being technical, suffice it to say that psychologists have actually come up with the correct happiness attributes to be tested and measured using modern statistical methods, and have conclusively devised quite accurate methods of measuring individual happiness levels.