What Google Can Teach Us About Happiness

An exploration of what topics are trending in the field of happiness.

Posted May 31, 2018

I am always looking for new ways to understand how people think about happiness. What’s hot? What’s trending? What’s not?

One of the ways I do this is by using Google Trends and Google Adwords–tools that analyze total search volume for different words. Google Adwords tells us total search volume for each word and Google Trends shows us search volume across time for different words. By looking at different topics related to happiness, we can get a sense for what happiness topics people are most interested in right now.

Let’s dive into Google Trends to see what we can learn.

What are the most popular happiness topics today?

Tchiki Davis, Screenshot
Source: Tchiki Davis, Screenshot

I decided to compare Positivity, Mindfulness, Empathy, Mindset, and Compassion - 5 topics related to happiness that tend to be popular.

According to Google Adwords, mindfulness is the most searched topic and empathy is not far behind.

What topics are trending?

In Google trends, we can see how interest in each topic has changed over time. Over the last five years, it looks like interest in mindfulness has grown the most, moving up from 3rd place to 1st place.

Tchiki Davis, Screenshot
Source: Tchiki Davis, Screenshot

When are people interested in each of these topics?

If we look at trends over the last day, we can see that search volume for empathy surpasses all the other terms in the evening (perhaps while watching the evening news?) Interest in mindfulness appears to peak in the middle of the night. Why might this be? Well, perhaps the people who are searching live in another time zone... we'll look at that next. 

Tchiki Davis, Screenshot
Source: Tchiki Davis, Screenshot

Who is interested in what?

If we look at where each topic is the most popular, we see that the most popular of these search terms in the U.S. is currently empathy. Although mindfulness is the most searched term overall, it appears to be more popular in South America and Australia, at least today. If we searched again tomorrow, the picture could be completely different.

Tchiki Davis, Screenshot
Source: Tchiki Davis, Screenshot

These are just a few ways that you can use Google Tools to better understand what's going on in the field for happiness.