'Happy barometer' offers worldwide mood updates
Having happy people around when you're feeling down is risky.
It can lift your mood by osmosis or make you feel even worse by comparison.
A new tool measuring happiness around the world is betting on the former effect.
Travelers, take note: here's a potentially instant guide to where to go if you like your places emotionally sunny or, perhaps, with a dose of existential gloom.
Launched this month, the Happy Baromoter invites people to record their happiness level on a zero-to-10 scale on an hourly basis, as well as noting where in the world they are.
Its aim, say founders, is "to encourage people around the world to smile more and share good emotions."
“There are a lot of worldwide happiness indexes but most are based on economic criteria,” says Arturas Jonkus, co-founder of IQ Polls, which runs the software.
“But in reality, our mood changes daily, or even hourly. So in this interactive world, why not make it real time?”
To supplement long-term happiness studies such as this one, the Happy Barometer allows you to compare how happy or miserable you are compared with the rest of the planet on an hourly basis.
Users can search their city on the Happy Barometer site and insert their mood level.
Unhappy country launches campaign
The initiative kicked off in Vilnius, Lithuania, one of the world's unhappiest countries according to a recent happiness report.
At the time of this writing, the city scored a contented seven out of 10.
The city's "Smile to Vilnius" campaign, a social initiative to increase happiness in the city, used outdoor digital displays to broadcast the real-time happiness level in the city.
In the first week the system collected more than 5,000 entries with an average happiness score of 6.1.
Some 50 other cities are included in the Happiness Barometer, but so far few votes have been counted for places other than Vilnius
Jonkus hopes the barometer will work as more than a simple gauge of happiness.
“Our country [Lithuania] has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. We hope the Happy Barometer doesn’t only measure but also shares smiles,” he says.
It's not the first time a happiness scale has been used to try to influence national well-being.
Bhutan uses a measure called Gross National Happiness, in place of the more typical Gross National Product, to guide social and economic development in the country.
However, no one in Bhutan has yet measured their mood on the Happy Barometer.
How happy are you right now? Why? Leave a comment below.