Researchers have been trying for decades to measure what makes people happy and, thanks to David Cameron’s much criticised happiness survey, we now have a Happiness Map of the UK so that we can determine where the most happy people live. (For our Berkshire readers, Reading doesn’t come out at all well!) All these surveys agree that, surprise, surprise, money makes people happy to a degree however once the threshold from poverty to adequate standard of living has been reached, further increases in wealth have almost no effect on happiness.
Ed Diener at the University of Illinois led a survey dubbed the first representative sample of planet Earth. The report concluded that everyone is just about the same in terms of what makes them happy. “Money matters, but positive feelings like enjoyment and laughing can do a whole lot more for people.” Close social relationships seem to be the most important factor in providing happiness and the research on health is also clear – healthy relationships can be immune enhancing.
Happiness at Christmas was the topic for research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies and the conclusions confirmed those of the broader studies that a happy Christmas was not determined by how much we spent or how much was spent on us, rather it depended on how much time we spent with our families, on partaking in satisfying spiritual activities and how well we controlled our spending.
Being with family and friends at Christmas can, however, as we all know, bring grievances and difficulties to the fore which we manage to ignore or suppress the rest of the year. Strategies to overcome family tensions and to celebrate our valuable and important relationships, should be high on many Christmas Lists. Time-honoured ways are often the best. So ……………….
- try to make light of things – if it is not going to matter tomorrow, next week, next month – does it really matter now?
- find reasons to be happy and grateful – re-write the words to Ian Drury’s iconic song to fit your Christmas festivities.
- make it your aim to be as non-Scrooge-like as possible.
May we wish all our readers good health, happiness, friendship and love for the holiday season.
Jocelyn and Kristina at Trance-Formed