A pretty deep dive into whether it’s worth moving for better weather 🌦
I know that just one data point isn't all that useful, but I'm noticably happier on warm, cloudy days! What can I say, I really enjoy being able to stare at the sky without going blind. And also being half-asleep for a full 24 hours.
Don't get too down and out about the Kanazawa paper, by the by. I have a strong suspicion that they are actually measuring "The Nerd Effect", rather than some deep rooted evolutionary phenomenon. Nerdy activities like reading, complicated board games, and (at least in the mid 90s to mid 00s, when these people were surveyed) video games and the internet can be equally enjoyed in sunny and rainy weather. As such, sunlight doesn't have a huge effect on nerds, since they still get to do most of the things they already enjoy. Meanwhile, sports, travel, or even just hanging out with friends, activities with a much broader appeal, are highly dependent on the weather. Once the sun disappears, the less intelligent crowd gets cooped up indoors, with nothing to do. The activities they prefer are more explicitly tied to sunshine, so sunshine has a bigger impact on their happiness.
Though, to be fair, this doesn't explain why intelligent people are happier overall. More capable of achieving their goals, maybe? Or maybe they're just better at convincing themselves bad stuff doesn't exist?
I'd actually like to see this study repeated with more recent data. My gut says, now that several nerdy activities have gone mainstream, the sunlight difference among unintelligent people won't be nearly as pronounced.
I find it really interesting that studies on mood never seem to dig deeper as to *why* certain things might have a mood impact. For example, large swings in barometric pressure give me headaches! So if you were to ask me some mood vs. weather questions, my answer would probably depend on how close the nearest high- or low-pressure system is.
Did any of the studies you looked at do any digging along these lines?
Also, I'm thirding the request for a book. I'm one of the people who found your blog through the Meso-American Tech Wizards post and I immediately binged your entire archive because your posts are always interesting, informative, and entertaining. I don't know how you would organize this blog into a book, but it would be fun to have a physical copy of your best posts in a few years!
First of all: as always, great article.
Second: I wrote in my newsletter (sadly only in Brazilian Portuguese) how moving from Brazil to Germany has impacted me in many ways — of course — but the most tangible and measurable thing that changed my mood was (guess?) the weather.
I arrived in the summer, so the sun was up at 5h and still quite sunny at 21h —ridiculous. I was getting tired without the feeling the day was over because the freaking sun was still up. While my German colleagues were quasi-naked, enjoying this crazy phenomenon, in Brazil, independent of the season, the sun goes up around 6h and down around 17h. Most Brazilians understand the term "the day looks like 16h", which means grey, sad — the day is ending — and happy — the shift is ending.
In Germany, here I am working, without getting why I feel so tired, and BAM: it's already 20h, and I didn't realise it because the sun is up and shining.
Fade in. WINTER. I thought I knew what suffering was, but I didn't.
How do people smile when the sun is up for so few hours? Oh, right, we're in Germany; people don't smile here. German winter made techno make sense to me, all angry and violent. Snow isn't my problem, but the lack of sun killed me. I wake up "at night" and leave the office "at night", mostly wanting to lay down and cry because the whole day "looks like 16h".
In conclusion, I'd like to see a study in which people talk about the happiness of people that moved countries, especially from bright and sunny ones to cold and glum, and the other way around, and if that impacts our happiness. Either way, it affected MINE. I spent last month in Brazil, and I felt fucking happy — and coated in sweat, but that's life.