There are reports in the press today about the Happiness survey.
The comments made in the press – this is all obvious and a waste of money – are both fair and unfair.
They’re fair because, as I’ve said before, we know about what does make us happy from existing research, we know money isn’t really connected to happiness and therefore there isn’t much point in doing some of these surveys etc. unless it is to score political points, because we could simply use what we already know, reserving the money for practical projects based on what we already know.
They’re unfair because, although we “know” these things, most of us don’t actually act on them when we have the opportunity, we chase after material goods and symbols instead of real happiness and we often fail to establish what we really do value.
We might say, “family and friends are more important than money”, and then spend 20 years working 18 hours a day “for them” to end up divorced from our spouse and estranged from our family. We might say, “health is precious”, and spend our money on chocolate, booze and drugs. We might say, “spiritual values are important”, win the lottery and buy a house, yacht, plane etc. and forget about all the humanitarian projects we could start with that money.
So as with many things, knowing about a subject like happiness isn’t quite the same as actually living in harmony with what we know.
But still, as I’ve said before, it would be better if Government and those allocating cash actually asked what we already know first, then acted to make it easier for people to use that knowledge in a practical way. Re-inventing the wheel, or giving facile “let’s all work for world peace and we’ll all be happy” advice isn’t really going to help a great deal.