Happiness, as you may have noticed, has become a political issue. Stimulated by a recent spate of research, governments are asking whether it is part of their role to create conditions that are more apt to make people happier and not just richer. David Chernoff
I’ve read a lot of the research and find it quite interesting to examine some of the apparent patterns of reported happiness. Once one is securely above the poverty line – probably what one might broadly say is able to afford a lower middle-class life style – money does not generally make people happier. Getting older does. Around the world middle age people are happier than younger people, and old people are often the most content of all.
I personally am not interested in giving a government chief responsibility for my happiness, though I do appreciate that there are things governments can do to make people happier.
But after reading this research I have been asking myself about what specifically makes me happy. Like almost everyone else, my family and friends are critical. But beyond that, each of us are individuals. What, I have been asking myself, do I enjoy most often in an ordinary day? Is there a pattern that we can detect in our own lives that tell us something about ourselves? perhaps what kind of career we would find fulfilling, or even what activities we find make for the best weekends, or best retirement, or best summer holiday?
I was talking to the granddaughter of a friend yesterday who is trying to decide on her major in college as a preparation for her adult life. We began to talk about happiness research and have agreed that each of us will keep a list of three things we most enjoy each day, and at the end of a month will analyze each list to see what we can learn about ourselves.
I hope in a couple of months time to be able to report on whether this is a useful endeavor for either young or old.