how to be happy

I’ve been interested for some time about the politics and economics (the postmodern yin/yang) of happiness. I loved the ‘Insiders Guide to Happiness‘. One of my blogrolemodels, Richard Bell, the nature diarist, blogged about Richard Reeves on ‘How to be Happy’ recently:

‘Take some exercise,’ suggests Richard Reeves, writer and management consultant in this week’s Radio Times, ‘It won’t make you happy now: in fact, if you go for a run you’ll feel terrible. But do it two or three times a week for six months, and I guarantee it’ll make you happier. If you want to feel happier this week, indulge yourself: get drunk, eat chocolate and buy a new car. You’ll feel better – but it won’t last. Long term happiness involves short term sacrifice.’

Reeves is in the new BBC2 series Making Slough Happy, but I probably won’t get to see it because Open University psychology expert Richard Stevens, who is also in the series, suggests that another way to happiness is to ‘cut down your TV viewing by half’ (fortunately there is a book of the series too: How to be Happy: Making Slough Happy).

I’m allergic to chocolate. Getting drunk makes for a bad next day, buying a new car is just a waste of money – so it seems like an idea – the exercise part that is. I take at least a 30 minute walk every day. I do it because it gives me a chance to think. And to wonder, pondering the big questions in life. Like: is everyone in the UK called Richard?

Apparently, possibly sadly, no. The author of the Observer comment ‘Everybody happy?’ is Tim Adams. Or so they say. Tim writes well about the idea of cognitive therapy for Slough. Now THAT’s something I’d like to see. Adams notes:

Stevens believes that modern society militates against contentment in various ways: that we are very busy to no particular purpose; that we fret about the past and we worry about the future and we forget about the present; that we talk all the time about diet and exercise then we eat badly and slob out; that we would love to be part of a community, but spend half our lives staring at TV screens and playing online poker. The Slough experiment, he suggests, was the biggest of its kind, and perhaps points to a way through some of those problems.

Happiness is interesting stuff.


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