A former Google Data Scientist used Big Data to uncover the secrets to happiness and success. Find out how to be happy, how to find love and how to get rich according to the data…
We already know that Big Data allows companies to make better decisions. And if it were possible to use it for achieve happiness and success in personal life ?
It’s the idea of Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, former Google Data Scientist. His new book, titled Don’t Trust Your Gut »begins with the sentence: you can make better life decisions. Big Data can help you “.
After seeing the effectiveness of Big Data in the field of baseball or finance, Silicon Valley or the world of business, Seth wanted to try to apply it to personal decisions for which we are all in hesitation.
In order to discover the answers to questions like ” what predicts a happy marriage? ” Where ” how to get rich? “, this expert has mined vast volumes of data.
Men lie, but numbers don’t
Invited by the Next Big Idea podcast, Seth revealed some information on this exciting subject. According to him, the most basic facts about the world are simply hidden from view.
Previously, he had already written a book on the secrets that can be discovered thanks to Big Data on subjects such as sexuality or racism. The most people lie or conceal what they really think.
In addition, many people hide their wealth or exaggerate it. It is therefore very difficult to know where does the money really flow. And the media contributes to this confusion by drawing attention to sensational stories.
For example, according to magazines, all successful entrepreneurs are in their twenties. In fact, the media choose them carefully, because a young man making a fortune is a better story. In the real world, the average age of successful entrepreneurs is 42.
the functioning of the world is therefore distorted in our eyes. And that’s why Big Data is so useful for making decisions.
How to find love through dating sites?
Seth Stephens-Davidowitz’s book examines in particular how Data Science can help find love. Especially on the web.
By analyzing data from the OkCupid dating site, Christian Rudder discovered that it is possible increase your chances of success by being extreme.
A person with a very particular style may find success on online dating sites, because some people will be very attracted to it. However, the purpose of dating is precisely to find someone who thinks you look great rather than being considered passable by everyone.
What are the secrets of a happy marriage?
Seth Stephens-Davidowitz’s book also evokes a study conducted by Samantha Joel and 85 other scientists from a pool of data of more than 11,000 couples. His goal was to predict the ingredients of a successful romantic relationship.
However, this study mainly demonstrates that it is very difficult to predict happiness in love. It is very difficult to predict whether two people will be happy together in the long term.
One of the authors of the study, interviewed by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, admits having ended up drawing the conclusion that relationships are chaotic systems similar to the weather. The slightest changes in the initial conditions can have disastrous consequences or, on the contrary, prove to be beneficial.
Nevertheless, the study suggests that one factor strongly increases the chances of being happy in a romantic relationship. It’s about to be happy outside of this relationship.
A person who is generally happy in life will also be in his romantic relationship. So it seems important to develop personally before to seek happiness in others.
What are the right decisions as a parent?
Regarding parenthood, Seth cites a study conducted by one of his former teachers named Raj Chetty. Along with other researchers, he analyzed the data from tens of millions of taxpayers Americans.
Their goal was to measure how close the neighborhood a child grows up in influence its future. To find out, the researchers notably compared children from the same families who moved at a certain age.
This study found that living in certain neighborhoods brings an advantage in anything that can be measured from tax-related data. This includes income, education, or marriage at a certain age.
Based on this study by Raj Chetty, Seth concludes that the choice of neighborhood in which to educate one’s child is the only truly crucial decision as a parent. For the rest, the choices made by the parents have little impact on the fate of their children.
What are the keys to business success?
When it comes to entrepreneurial success, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz’s book reveals that data puts to rest many myths. Youth is not always an advantage. In reality, chances of success as an entrepreneur increase at age 60.
Likewise, being an “outsider” is not always an advantage. Contrary to what one might think, being too close to a domain is not necessarily an obstacle to creativity in problem solving. The data shows on the contrary that the chances of success increase as one is close to a domain.
Finally, the data proves Paul Graham wrong about the power of the misfits. In an essay, this Brit claimed that not being successful was an advantage when starting a business. In fact, the data shows that most successful entrepreneurs were already among the top 0.1% earners when they started their business.
Big Data seems to shed light on a formula for business success. The secret would be spend many years mastering a field very specific, then to prove its value in this field, and finally to create its business.
The recipe for human happiness
As Seth points out in his book, GDP has doubled over the past fifty years, new technologies allow us to learn and communicate more easily, but we are no happier than before. While 30% of Americans described themselves as very happy in 1972, the percentage is still the same 50 years later.
Can Big Data reveal the recipe for happiness? Two British economists decided to take advantage of the rise of smartphones to survey thousands of people about their level of happiness.
They formed a set of data on more than 60,000 people, and more than 3 million “happiness points”. From this data, they conducted several studies to determine what tends to make people happier.
The former Data Scientist himself admits having brought several changes to his personal life after reading the results of this study. One of the main lessons is the importance of activity.
The activities that bring a lot of happiness tend to require a lot of energy: walking, exercising, hunting, fishing, climbing, or even commuting to see a show or visit a museum.
On the contrary, people whose hobbies require little energy generally say they are unhappy. This concerns activities such as browsing the internet, watching television, reading, or even playing on the phone. In conclusion, dynamic activities are those that lead to happiness !
As highlighted in the book “Don’t Trust Your Gut” by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, Data Science reveals surprising truths about human happiness, professional success or romantic relationships. You are free to choosing to adopt a “data-driven” lifestyle to grow and make better decisions!