Friday, January 13, 2012

Happiness humbug?

This ('Bristol is 'not a happy city' says poll') is really badly reported, though the issue is an interesting one. If 1 in 5 say they are not happy that leaves 4 in 5 that said something else...from neither happy nor not happy through happy to very happy one assumes. So, how is the Post headline justified? We have a few more people in one national survey who said they are not happy, compared the average - but that's not the same as 'not a happy city'. We need more information!

There's also the issue that this is only a snapshot - and is a self-assessment. Don't levels of happiness go up and down somewhat? What is happiness in any case and over what timescale are we talking? And how are happiness levels best assessed?

The story also mixes up happiness and contentment. The two are not the same. Being content is being satisfied, accepting and having desires that are reasonably restrained. Happiness is thought of as being pleased, feeling gladness or joy, though maybe its not so straightforward as this. For more sense than this article and to explore wellbeing as opposed to just happiness and contentment I'd read Martin Seligman's book 'Flourish'.

Seligman interviewed on newsnight

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