THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Happy v. Interesting: Take this test to find out

The culmination of my four-year obsession with happiness research is that I think people need to choose between an interesting life or happy life. Here's the test:

1. Did you relocate away from family for a better job? (-1)

You would have to earn $150,000 more from a job if you were doing it far away from family, according to economist Nattavudh Powdthavee of University of York.

2. Did you relocate to be near family? (+1)

Happiness does not come from a job, or from being revered by your peers. It comes from personal relationships.

3. Are you nationally recognized (or heading this way)? (-1)

Interesting people are singularly focused because they recognize that in order to be great, you need to be focused.

4. Were you a happy child? (+1)

Sixty percent of our ability to be happy is predetermined by our genes.

5. Do your friends pray? (+1)

People who pray are happier, probably because having faith is fundamentally optimistic. (You can be any religion, and pray for anything.) Happiness is contagious, and we are more likely to be happy if our friends are happy.

6. Do you enroll your kids in a top school? (-1).

People who need the best of everything— maximizers— are not happy.

7. Do you have fat friends? (+1)

Fat people are not generally maximizers. And if your friends are not maximizers than you probably aren't either.

8. Do you have an opinion on Picasso? (-1)

People who focus on interesting are quicker to form opinions on subjective topics.

9. Do you have three friends who are a Jew, a Muslim, and a born-again Christian? (-1)

Diversity is interesting, but in small groups, like friends, it does not make for happiness, according to Frans Johansson, author of The Medici Effect.

10. Are you a Republican? (+1)

Republicans are happier because they tend to be uncomfortable with change, whereas people who lean Democratic tend to have traits of change agents, according to personality research from Xyte.

11. Do you consider Christmas a national holiday? (+1)

Because the U.S. is not a Christian country, Christmas is not a national holiday, so regardless of what's true, homogenous thinking breeds happiness. It's why countries like Sweden and Finland are so happy.

12. Have you been to a therapist? (-1)

People who are interesting need to make sure they are okay and are interested in finding out about themselves even if they are fine.

13. Do you know the difference between $70- and $20-eyebrows? (-1)

It doesn't matter if you spend that much for eyebrows, but if you took the time to find out enough about eyebrows to know what is best, then you're a maximizer.

14. Can you tell the difference between real diamonds and fake? (+1)

Trick question. A maximizer will have tried to figure it out and will have learned that without a special tool even experts can't.

15. Have you tried on a pair of $200 jeans? (-1)

People who are interested in new experiences are less likely to be happy, according to Psychology Today.

16. Do you think this test is BS? (+1)

People with interesting lives do not get offended that they cannot be happy. Happy people are offended that they cannot have interesting lives.


-8 to -3 You have a desire for interestingness over happiness

3 to 8 You have a desire for happiness over interestingness.

-2 to 2 You are suspiciously well balanced. Or lacking a self-identity. I'm not sure which.


Penelope Trunk has started several companies and worked for many more.


1 comment

Every time I take the time to read this woman's column, I end up wondering why I wasted that little bit of life. Wonder where that places me on the scale.