In a massive global research project titled “Life at Home,” IKEA is looking at how people go through their everyday lives, from morning routines to putting dinner on the table. Not only do their reports show what IKEA customers want, but they also offer some pretty solid data on what makes us happy. IKEA asked 8,500 people from all over the world — New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, Moscow, Mumbai and Shanghai — to talk about their everyday habits in their kitchens and how food affected their well being. We’re sharing the fascinating results with you.

The language of sharing

IKEA found that sharing moments around food is one way we connect with those closest to us. The most common use of social media is actually interacting with friends or family when eating alone by chatting, texting or sending a picture of whatever is on the plate.

Instead of seeing technology as something that isolates us, we could see it as another way for us to connect. Besides the dinner selfie, we use social media to share recipes and our culinary successes with our friends and family (Look, Mom: pie crust!). Even if you’re not a blogger or chef, according to IKEA’s research, more than six in ten people have looked for food inspiration online. In other words, that chia bowl you tweeted this morning might just be someone’s inspiration for breakfast tomorrow.

The anywhere, anytime dinner

IKEA also discovered something that we all are familiar with: Hectic schedules make it hard to get everyone around a dining table for dinner. One in three people living alone wish they could eat with others more often during weekdays, and nearly a quarter of couples with children feel they don’t eat together as often as they would like. The good news is that the benefits we get from eating together can be had anywhere, and your friends probably don’t care if they are sitting on the couch or your bed while they eat. Instead of feeling guilty about not sitting around the traditional dining table, build your own traditions around food.

Growing a happy home

There are many reasons to have a garden, and now you can add “happier life” to your decision to grow something. Almost half of city dwellers say gardening is something they would like to do, although the main challenge is finding the right space. Whether it’s the satisfaction of eating something you grew yourself or just the sheer fun (and bragging rights) of seeing something you’ve planted thrive, city growers actually claim that they enjoy their weekdays more than others, even though their days are just as stressful as those who don’t grow anything.

Cooking as therapy

Even though six out of ten people say they enjoy cooking a lot, the drag of coming up with meals every day can start to feel like a chore. The upside is that those who cook more enjoy their everyday life a little more. Some therapists have even started using cooking as a therapy tool, since it eases stress, builds self-esteem and curbs negative thinking by focusing the mind on following a recipe. So don’t take the meal too seriously; have fun with it and enjoy the process.

Cooking with kids

Getting kids in the kitchen is one of the best ways to build healthy eating habits. When kids get involved in the cooking process, they learn to love foods that support good health. From learning how to do math while measuring flour, getting creative setting the table or just practicing teamwork skills to get dinner on the table, kids are never too young to help out in the kitchen. When you let them scrub dishes or pick out their favorite veggies at the grocery store, you’re teaching them real-life skills that will stick with them in adulthood.

Cooking and your personality

Is there anything more fun than getting a bunch of friends together to cook? As many as one in five people say spending time in the kitchen with friends, partners or children is one of their favorite ways to hang with other people. When we cook together, we learn new ways of doing things and feel the thrill of creating a beautiful meal together. In the end, even if the food doesn’t turn out exactly as planned and takeout must be had, the friendships that we make while cooking together will last longer than any smoke alarm.

Are you inspired to host a dinner party? Or maybe get the kids in the kitchen with you? Let us know what you think of this research in the comments below!