For the study, researchers used text messaging to build up a data pool known as "experience sampling" of what activities people rated as bringing the most pleasure, and subsequently those activities that brought the least amount of happiness.
Drinking alcohol or partying came second in terms of pleasure but only 10th in terms of meaning, the study showed. Surprisingly, raising children and religion both ranked below sex and drinking alcohol.
Using Facebook and doing housework both ranked low on the happiness scale, as did paid work and commuting. Feeling sick was lowest rated in terms of pleasure.
"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. This means that being able to seek happiness in different ways may enrich your everyday experience and increase your overall well-being," he said.
Grimm explains that the study should not be taken only as a negative when juxtaposed with society at large because happiness is different for every person and human nature tends to lead people to activities that increase happiness.
"Engagement is what you experience when you're totally absorbed in what you're doing; either skiing down a hill or being immersed in your work. People call this experience a state of flow and this may be a dominant orientation to happiness for some people… Having meaning in a person's life was a way to pursue happiness; being part of something bigger and contributing to the greater good," Grimm wrote in the study.