Former Rotorua Boys' High School student Carsten Grimm admits he is no happiness guru.
"Give me another 40 years of research,'' says the 33-year-old, who grew up in Rotorua and is behind a Canterbury research project about what brings people pleasure, meaning, engagement, and happiness in life.
However, he does rank his own happiness as a 9 out of 10.
The postgraduate psychology researcher found in his research that having sex and partying were two of life's most enjoyable activities but spending time on Facebook and texting were much less fulfilling.
But Mr Grimm's findings come with a warning.
"We need to become more sophisticated when talking about happiness. It's not just about parties and having sex. It's a far more complicated story than that ... The things that tend to influence life satisfaction are not necessarily
the things that influence daily wellbeing.''
Mr Grimm said other research had found that income tended to have a "pretty stable but small'' relationship with life satisfaction but a better indicator for determining daily wellbeing was whether someone had their social and psychological needs met.
Mr Grimm used mobile phone text-messaging to survey what people did during the day and how they felt about it, a technique called "experience sampling''.
"I texted people three times a day over a week and the response rate was really high. People are never far from their cellphones these days,'' Mr Grimm said.
"People replied to on average 97 per cent of all text messages and texts were sent at random times, so there is a really rich sample of everyday life to look at.''
Mr Grimm found "sex or making love'' ranked first in the four categories measured in the survey.
Drinking alcohol or partying ranked second in the pleasure and happiness stakes, but was rated much less meaningful.
Instead, caregiving or volunteering, and meditating and religious practices were seen as more meaningful to respondents.
They also ranked highly in happiness.
At the other end of the scale, washing, dressing and grooming ranked last out of the 30 behaviours surveyed, and being sick and receiving healthcare ranked 30th for happiness.
Facebook was seen as the least meaningful, and also rated poorly in the other three categories. Texting and emailing also rated poorly in the pleasure and happiness categories.
Happiness and wellbeing were increasingly being used alongside traditional economic indicators such as GDP in policy decision-making, Mr Grimm said.
"Treasury is now including wellbeing measures _ life satisfaction _ in its higher living standards framework, so governments are into this wellbeing stuff,'' he said.
"I am currently researching how to add to that understanding. So far, governments around the world and media have focused mainly on life satisfaction in the discussion about wellbeing. It turns out happiness is a far more complicated topic.
"One of the areas I'm researching _ orientations to happiness _ looks at whether there are different ways of going about seeking happiness.
"Psychologists have proposed individuals may seek to increase their well-being through three main behavioural orientations: via pleasure, via engagement, and via meaning.''
Mr Grimm is to present his research tomorrow as part of the University of Canterbury's show case lecture series.
"The results have implications for what psychologists have called `the full life'. Those who tend to be high on all three orientations to happiness not only score high on life satisfaction, they also tend to have higher experiences of pleasure, meaning, engagement and happiness in their daily lives,'' he said.
"This means that being able to seek happiness in different ways may enrich your everyday experience and increase your overall wellbeing.''
Mr Grimm, who was born in Denmark and moved with his family to Rotorua when he was 6 weeks old, attended Malfroy School, Rotorua Intermediate and Rotorua Boys' High School and still heads back to Rotorua occasionally to visit his mother, Susan Grimm.
He left school at the end of 1996 to join the New Zealand Air Force and became a helicopter pilot.
He was in the Air Force for 12 years and towards the end of that time began studying psychology part-time through Massey Uni versity. "It became clear I was more passionate about becoming a psychologist than about wanting to stay as a pilot.''
He said what made him happy was finding meaning _ contributing to society in some way.
Mr Grimm is planning to do a doctorate and also wants to develop an app that will allow for better experience sampling of everyday wellbeing.
Top activities that make you happy:
1. Sex/making love
2. Drinking alcohol/partying
4. Meditating/religious activities
5. Childcare/playing with children
6. Listening to music/podcast
7. Socialising/talking/ chatting
4. Studying/working on education
7. Paid work
9. Internet/on computer
-Additional reporting APNZ