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Published On: Fri, Mar 21st, 2014

Are we really happiest when we wake?

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If you are not a morning person, you will find this hard to believe – but breakfast is our happiest moment of the day.

Analysis of more than half a billion Twitter messages showed that people from all over the world wake up in a good mood but become grumpier by the hour.

However, we do cheer up in the evening.

By counting how often various words linked to happiness cropped up in Twitter posts, the researchers Cornell University also showed we are happier at the weekend.

This suggests that the stresses and strains of work and commuting are getting us down during the week.

But the researchers don’t believe this is the whole story. They think sleep and our body’s natural rhythms also play a big role.

Backing this up, they found that although we are happier at the weekend, spirits are highest a bit later in the morning – likely because we get up later.

Researcher Michael Macy told the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual conference: ‘We found people are happiest around breakfast time in the morning and then it’s all downhill from there.

‘It wasn’t about work because we found the same pattern on the weekend but it was delayed by about an hour and half.’

The professor thinks that start the day happy because we are refreshed by sleep. And that the extra lift at the weekend comes from waking up at the time nature intended, rather than being jolted to life by an alarm clock.

The need for sleep could also help explain why we use more and more negative words as the day goes on.

Professor Macy used a hub of powerful supercomputers to analyse 509million tweets written by 2.4million Twitters in 84 different countries.

He looked at how often ‘fantastic’, ‘incredible’, ‘hilarious’ and other words that denote a good mood cropped up at various times of the day, versus language used to describe sadness, anger or embarrassment.

He found the same pattern around the world, across cultures, religions and countries, although the ‘weekend effect’ moved to fit in with a county’s work timetable.

For instance, in the United Arab Emirates, Fridays and Saturdays – the days that constitute the weekend there – were the happiest.

Co-researcher Scott Golder told ABC News: ‘People criticize the Internet for being mundane or filled with gossip, but that’s really not so.

‘The Internet records everything, so Twitter is a giant archive of time-coded conversations.’

Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University, said it is easy for the working day to get people down.

He advises people to avoid aggressive and pessimistic colleagues, ask for extra time to complete tasks rather than do them badly and try to stay positive.

He said: ‘Go in happy and don’t let them grind you down. Think of the people outside work who really matter you and what being unhappy and stressed will do to your health and so to the people you really care about.’




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