News & Politics

What Is This Thing Called “Happiness” That We’re Feeling? An Explainer for DC-Area Locals

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Six million or so residents of the Washington region are struggling with an unusual feeling during the 75-degree weather this Friday in February. It’s a strange mixture of hope, contentment, and positive emotions. We have identified this feeling as happiness. Here are some things you should know about this rare condition.

What is happiness?

Happiness is more than the absence of sadness. It occasions cheerfulness, joy, and other things that are unusual in Washington lately.

What sort of activities do people who feel happiness do?

They gather with friends for drinks that are sold at a discount  (fun fact: that is how “happy hours” got their name!), go for walks, explore this beautiful area, or just stand at the edges of bodies of water, pondering the infinite.

Do others feel happiness?

Yes! Everyone is feeling happy right now.

Does happiness cause any unpleasant side effects?

Perhaps, if you don’t watch how much you take in at a “happy hour.” But don’t worry about that at the moment.

It’s February. What is this strange warm sensation on my skin? 

That is the sun. Please read our separate explainer about this phenomenon.

Is there any further reading I can do on happiness? 

Yes, it’s right here:

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.