Hacking Happiness: How Big Data Can Make The World More Joyful


SAPThis post is part of the "Future of Business" series, which examines how cutting-edge technologies are rapidly reshaping our world, from how businesses run to how we live. "The Future of Business" is sponsored by SAP.


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Sure, big data technology can read every tweet ever tweeted. It can search and organize boundless volumes of books. It can even help keep track of sports statistics that were previously unrecordable.

But now it can make the world a happier place.

John C. Havens, founder of the H(app)athon Project, wants to harness emerging technologies like big data to bring about tangible and positive world change.


It all started when Havens wrote an article titled "The Value Of A Happiness Economy," in which he argues that happiness is much more linked to helping others than it is to annual income. He cites statistics that show "after a person or family receives a salary of $75,000 per year, increasing the amount of money brought home doesn’t increase a feeling of well-being."

Havens points out that the act of "paying it forward," or performing a favor for someone with the expectation that they return it to someone else entirely, can do wonders for your mood. Seven out of ten people "were happy when they did something good for other people, but only one out of 10 people ever experienced generosity on a daily basis."

He suggests that big data cen be used to tackle that discrepancy. Enter the H(app)athon App, which is currently in development. It will prompt you to assess your happiness regularly and provide you with suggestions on how to get happier.

Ultimately, he hopes to use all the data this app collects to create "a happiness economy" where people measure their success by how content they are, rather than how wealthy they are.

It's not just about improving well-being around the world. Havens has political ambitions for his project too.


By analyzing user responses with big data technology, H(app)athon will create what it calls a "global mood ring" – a realtime analysis of happiness around the world. The aim here is to "help policy makers or anyone else see why the holistic measure of well-being could help guide their decisions with greater context than the GDP."

Watch the H(app)athon App's video below to learn more.

The H(app)athon Project Video Introduction from The H(app)athon Project on Vimeo.