Happiness research is often tied to economical growth indicators or longevity – but is there more to how to account for the happiness of the collective? How can we pin down factors and values as intangible as the most cherished sources of happiness in our lives?

At 5-WORDS we’ve wondered about the above for a long time, so we posed a simple question to our audience: “What makes you happy?”

All respondents were first asked if they identified as a male or female (to create 2 segments in the cohort,) then they answered with 5 words of their own. 5-WORDS collected all the answers, ran its AI analysis and here are the results!

The simplest visualization that 5-WORDS provides is the Word List. It shows us how many times certain categories or word clouds are mentioned. The smaller the word, the least prominent is its category.


Not surprising that the words family and travel ranked on the very top of the list, followed by sport, children, and sunshine. When we picture a family biking together in the sun on their vacation, we could start to feel like happiness is only for the married or that it comes only once a year. Stick with it though – when we go lower in the list, we discover sex, art in the form of music, and we also reach more materialistic and everyday aspects of happiness like pet and health.

Strikingly, all of our respondents shared at least 2 words in common with other respondents. This does not mean that 2 particular words were mentioned by every single participant, but rather that no-one gave truly unique answers: each 5-word answers had at least 2 words (or their synonyms) in common with any other 5-word answer. We are not so different after all.


And what makes the genders happy? The uniquely female answers were smile, pet, and seashore, while males brought games, understanding and  fruits (why not?) into the picture.


How many words could you have guessed from the 5 most popular answers? For us the most interesting result was seeing sunshine among the top 5 answers – instead, we expected love or health up there.

5-WORDS and TED – TED Summit 2019

At the 2019 TED Summit 5-WORDS was used to ask the same question of the audience. Check out their answers below!

To find out more about happiness research and scientific inquiry about what makes us fulfilled, we recommend the following sources:

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Category: Closed questions

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