Feeling Happy? Doubt it.

Earlier I wrote a post about being the “Best Husband Ever” but in reality, my wife is one of, if not the best (superlative intended) thing, to have come into my life. When I’m with her, I’m happy. So when I was answering a quiz the other day to see if money truly made me happy or not, I shouldn’t have been surprised that time and experiences with my wife trumps having more money than Warren Buffet.

And isn’t that what life is all about, being happy? After all, we as Americans believe that it’s our “unalienable right” to pursue happiness. But what is happiness? It’s a question I ask myself quite often, especially when I’m working on a Benefit Ladder where the most frequently cited emotion is … drumroll please, “It makes me happy” or it’s not too distant relative, “it makes me feel good.”

Happiness is a surface level emotion; it’s just another word to describe a different, deeper emotion. For example, if you were to talk to my wife and me about the benefits of driving our BMW, we would both say that it “makes me feel happy.” Using probing methods we leverage in Socrates (our online moderator backed by artificial intelligence), you’d find out that we had entirely different definitions of happy. Happiness, in the context of our car, was actually defined as: feeling free when accelerating quickly to drive fast, and also feeling pampered/spoiled with all the luxurious amenities, such as heated seats. (Can you guess which of these defined happiness for my wife vs. myself?)

So, what exactly is a client supposed to do when consumers are saying that something makes them feel happy? Here are my suggestions:

  1. Probe – ask them straight up to describe that feeling of happy
  2. Ask “So What” – go a step further to understand why it’s important for them to feel happy; push to understand why that matters to them personally in their life or situation
  3. Context matters – have them tell a story of a time that adds richness and detail around what was going on when they felt “happy” because of that benefit

Take a moment to define what happiness means to you. Please tweet your definition @QuesterMR.

See: “Happiness: The Bulls**t Emotion” for additional commentary on this topic.


  • Alexander Parrish

    When Alex was a child, he wanted to be a doctor; he even told his parents he would give them a 10% family discount when he became one. Unfortunately, the sight of blood quickly led him to consider different career options.Alex feels truly lucky to have married someone who not only was willing to go out in public with him when he had a mullet, but who will also sing boy band songs with him when they’re trying to get their toddler to fall asleep.As Research Director, he’s an artist. First, he gets the right canvas/conversational flow to work with and then he takes the thousands of respondent’s words to paint a picture. For each picture he creates with the Quester team, he wants the clients who look at it broadly to easily see the “big picture.” He also focuses on “bringing sexy back” to his presentations. Coincidence that he admires Justin Timberlake? Perhaps.

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