Well… it’s not the internet. How do I know? The Dr. Jean Twenge recently put out an article and great series of graphs on the World Happiness Report. Dr. Twenge and her team looked specifically at 12 to 18 year olds. (I would guess the following holds true for our younger… and older… friends, too!)
Time on the internet has increased dramatically from 2009 to today. During that same time period, the average amount of sleep and ‘in-person’ interactions have plummeted.
And, guess what the results for happiness did? Just like the rockets that don’t pop their ‘chutes at camp: straight down.
But, if you spend any time at camp, this isn’t a surprise. There are no phones and very, very little internet. There is an abundance of in-person interaction. In fact, you can hardly get away from it. And, (believe it or not parents), there is a lot of sleep – at least 8 hours for even our oldest campers.
Here’s the kicker graph to me:
Now, this graph is ‘correlational’ rather than ‘causal.’ That means it’s not proven that spending time texting or on social media or internet causes you to feel unhappy. It could be that when you are unhappy, you reach out to those options.
Either way, we know the things on the top of the graph – with the scores moving to the right – are either making you happy or are things you do when you are happy.
Want to know something crazy? It really doesn’t matter if it’s a before or after scenario. The more you do things that are correlated to your happiness, the happier you’ll be.
At camp, you can pretty much do everything that is purple in the graph above… except the news things. Yes, you can even do homework… if your parents request it. The things in yellow? Almost impossible to do at Weequahic.
Here’s the thing: you know you are happy at camp. So, make your life in other areas as happy as you can by making it more like camp.
How? Start by getting off your phone and around others. Go play. Volunteer your time. Reach a book. Write a list of you are grateful for rather than spending time scrolling. There are lots of ways. You just have to get creative and decide to go and do.
Get out there, Weequahic. Move! Interact! Sleep! And be happy.