The 7 secrets of happiness

The 7 secrets of happiness

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There are, believe it or not, people who are paid money to study what makes the rest of us happy. The obvious question is….are they happy in their jobs? According to last week’s FT Weekend there are seven key things that affect happiness. There are probably a lot more but the FT were happy with seven.

The first is that money buys you little happiness which should come as good news to those who are part of the public sector strike aimed at bringing the economy to its knees. Studies have found that poorer people often lead happier lives than rich people so go back to work you slackers and abandon your demands for more money. It won’t make you happy.

Friends are worth more than a Ferrari. That surely depends on the friends or on which particular model Ferrari. If it’s the one that has a habit of spontaneously combusting then I’d rather have a friend any day. But if it’s an Enzo or even a Testarossa then I’m not so sure. The best solution is to find a friend with a Ferrari I guess.

Winning the lottery won’t make you instantly happy. They do concede that once the immensity of your win sinks in you could become happier as the possibilities of what to do with your new found wealth occurs to you. Apparently some lottery winners become confused because they don’t think they deserve to win. I’m not sure I would have those doubts and I would be prepared to be a guinea pig to see whether winning the lottery makes me instantly happy. This Saturday would be just fine.

Losing your job makes you unhappy-but less so when others lose theirs. Can’t say I agree with that one because that doesn’t equate to happiness. It’s more a matter of relative misery because it doesn’t seem quite so bad if other people are in the hot and smelly with you. Having said that, I’ve known people who were deliriously happy to lose their jobs, particularly when the pay out ran into millions of rands.

Fat friends make you happier than thin ones. This only works if you’re not fat. That would mean that you would only have thin friends and friends the same size and that wouldn’t make you happy. If you’re thin though then obviously fat friends make you happy. That’s because they can’t shop for clothes that easily, they can’t fit into aircraft seats and they’re probably going to die earlier. Who wouldn’t be happy having friends like that? The downside is that they empty your fridge every time they come round for coffee.

Divorce can make you happy. Particularly if the settlement runs into the tens of millions. Look at Tiger Woods’s ex. Gorgeous, blonde, young and rich. What’s there not to be happy about? And if you’ve been in a lousy marriage divorce is a welcome release. However, if you’re landed with a heavy bill for alimony that may reduce the happiness you get from being divorced.

Happiness is contagious. But so is misery so if you work in a miserable environment you’re likely to have a miserable life. Happy people tend to be healthier, live longer and earn more. I don’t meet many happy people working for large corporates which tends to suggest that running your own business is a good option if you want to be happy. Or moving to Hollywood and becoming a movie star would seem to tick all the boxes.

But as Rabbi Hyman Schachtel wisely said, “happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have”.

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