How to be happy

  • David Cameron’s quest to make Britons happier could take some pointers from research just out in the MIT Sloan Management Review.

Researchers David Blanchflower of Dartmouth College in the US and Andrew Oswald  of our own University of Warwick have discovered that “Happy countries are disproportionately rich, educated, democratic, trusting, and low-unemployment.”
Unemployment is linked to a lot of unhappiness, they say, and even among those with jobs, there is a strong association between job insecurity and unhappiness.  
As to individual happiness, they say we are more likely to be happy if we are:

  • Young or old (rather than in midlife)
  • Financially well-off
  • Educated
  • Married
  • Employed
  • Physically healthy
  • A person who exercises
  • Someone who eats a diet that contains lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Not overweight.

Common sense, really.
In the US specifically they found self-employed people are likely to be happier than people in jobs earning the same amount, and that Americans may be less happy than they were in the 1970s.
Downtime reckons that’s mostly due to the difference in popular music between then and now.