Happy Happy! Joy Joy?

Yay! Did you hear?! Today is the happiest day of the year!! The Atlanta Journal Constitution is reporting (h/t: Gawker) that today is the most joyous of all the 365 joyous days we have!


It concludes this via a Rigorous Mathematical Formula, determined, Good Will Hunting-style, by the British mathematician Cliff Arnall: O + (N x S) + Cpm/T + He.

Yeah. That’s right. Take a second and be really impressed; it’s all really mathematical and intellectual and stuff. For all us laypeople, though, the AJC/Cox News piece courteously lays it out:

O is time spent outdoors.

N is time spent in nature.

S is more socialization in the summer.

Cpm relates to positive memories of childhood summers.

T factors in temperature.

He is vacation anticipation.

Ergo: Joy! Which is fascinating!! And I’m not just saying that because I’m just so inexplicably happy today!!! Really!!!!

Each year on this day—and again, “like clockwork,” on January 22, The Saddest Day of the Year—articles about Today Being the Happiest Day (Yay!) are published in papers across the country. Like summer beach reading writ journalistic, they’re light, fluffy, mind-numbing, fun, and useless. Unfortunately, they’re also bogus. Today, alas, is not, in fact, The Happiest Day of the Year (though if it happens to be that for you, mazel tov). The formula that concludes that it is is a PR hoax. As The Guardian’s Ben Goldacre reported,

It’s not surprising that these equations are so stupid, because they come from the PR companies almost fully-formed and ready to have your name attached to them. I know that because I have received an avalanche of insider stories - Watergate it isn’t - including one from an academic in psychology who was offered money by Porter Novelli PR agency to put his name to the very same Sky Travel equation story that Arnall sold his to. In amongst their aggressive pitch they described how the story would go.

Goldacre wrote that back in December…of 2006. The AJC article was published…today. Which is…sad.

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.