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Overall UK happiness levels given English boost, ONS says

This would scale up to about half a million Britons. Once your basic needs are satisfied, your desire for ever-increasing amounts of money generates ever-decreasing returns of happiness. Likewise, the most recent American Time Use Survey ATUS , which allows analysts to estimate levels of happiness associated with a range of daily activities, showed that happiness goes up with increases in income at the lower end of the scale, but then it falls with higher incomes. Those with the highest incomes report the least sense of purpose in their experiences.

Data suggest that being rich can lead to time and attention being directed towards activities that fuel the attainment of more wealth, such as longer working hours and longer commutes, and away from activities that generate more happiness, such as time outside and time with family and friends. This discrepancy between the big effect on happiness that we imagine increased wealth should bring and the small effect we experience goes a long way towards explaining the narrative trap of reaching for wealth. And most people, irrespective of income, would continue to reach for more long after they have earned their 50 grand.

This is the addiction problem. If you are not struggling to make ends meet, I propose that you rein in the social narrative that encourages you to endlessly pursue more money.

Invest your time and effort into doing all you can to ensure that those who are struggling are provided with the living conditions, wages and financial support that will help them to cover the costs of their living expenses. Helping other people is great for our own happiness. A just-enough approach to wealth is not made any easier by the demands placed on us by family commitments, especially as your family grows, and social expectations.

Social media, in particular, facilitate showing off beyond our wildest dreams.


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But even if it appears boring to accept that you may have enough wealth already, it can also be tremendously liberating. Once you have enough money to afford the basic things you want in life, you can stop constantly worrying. Attending to being wealthy also means that we harshly judge others for being happy with what they have — we might call them unambitious or lazy — thus preserving the status quo and making it more likely that more people will be miserable with what they have.

So we need to stop judging others as lazy, uninspiring or unambitious when they report being happy as they are. The narrative of reaching for wealth stigmatises those who do not want more money. The desire for wealth has truly far-reaching consequences. It usually means the overconsumption of goods, resulting in global greenhouse gas emissions and unnecessary land, material and water use. Repeated spending on items that are easily replaced means more production and excess waste, both of which have serious environmental consequences.

If you are a parent, reinforcing the narrative at home that some money can be enough will help children learn from an early age that the relentless pursuit of money is not inevitable. If you are a policy-maker, perhaps you could start by publishing lists of the top taxpayers, rather than the top earners. When it comes to the success narrative, the first box to tick is to be employed.

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But beyond having a job — any job — one of the most widely used measures of success is having a good job, and doing well in your career. In Happiness By Design , I told this story: A few weeks ago, I went out for dinner with one of my best friends, whom I have known for a long time. She works for a prestigious media company and basically spent the whole evening describing how miserable she was at work; she variously moaned about her boss, her colleagues, and her commute. This story highlights the very common inner conflict between the social narrative of success, which values status and recognition in a job, and personal experiences of happiness in the job.

My friend was experiencing pain and pointlessness at work, but the narrative she told about her job was totally unrelated. A job that makes us miserable is not a good job, but we can convince ourselves it is if it has high status. MediaLand is somewhere my friend had always wanted to work, her parents were proud of her, and her friends were a little bit jealous. So the narrative she created for herself comes from the broader social narrative of status. The latter is lacking in economic status and the former has plenty.

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This data comes from a City and Guilds survey that interviewed 2, employees from a wide range of professions; there was a follow -up for millennials that found pretty much the same thing. In , the Legatum Institute published a report that looked to see which occupational groups were paid the most and which ones had the highest average life satisfaction.

Predictably, chief executives and other senior officials were the highest paid, but they were no more satisfied than their secretaries, who were obviously paid much less. Some other professions whose members were happier than their bank accounts might suggest were the clergy, farmers and fitness instructors. It could well be that those who choose careers like floristry or fitness might be happier to begin with than those who choose to go into law.

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We need good longitudinal studies which follow the same people over time to find out more. However, there are aspects of jobs like floristry that make them more likely to generate happiness than working in a law firm. These include working with nature, regularly seeing the fruits of your labour, generally being around people who want to be with you, and feeling as though you have control over your workload.

'Happiness by Design' Book Trailer

More than four out of five florists say that they are able to hone their skills every day, which makes them feel happy. The success narrative not only applies to what jobs we have but also to how long we spend working. As incomes rise, it seems that we pay more attention to the income forgone from not working; and so we work more to capitalise on the increased value of our time. Time is money. These myths, also known as the happiness narrative, are what we tend to think what makes us happy, but often we are better off abandoning this narrative.

Dolan is a behavioral scientist and thus has, not surprisingly, a very scientific way of looking at this. However, I liked it that he made it more human and relatable by giving his own interpretations of things at times, whilst still leaving space for readers Happy Ever After by Paul Dolan is a book about uncovering myths about a perfect life.

However, I liked it that he made it more human and relatable by giving his own interpretations of things at times, whilst still leaving space for readers to disagree. The book consistently worked through several topics on which we are vulnerable to the happiness narrative.

Ranging from marriage, kids, health, and education there will probably be chapters to which you can relate more than others, but I found several of them to be real eye-openers! Furthermore, I really felt that Dolan was his unapologetic self while writing this book. There is some swearing, but he also explains why, and I found it hilarious that somebody actually thought that he should not swear because of his position as an academic.

For fuck sake how ridiculous is that! This book provided me with some interesting things to think about, it was not filled with jargon and thus a relatively relaxing read. My rating is 3,5 out of 5 stars. I received a digital review copy of this book from Penguin Books UK in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are entirely my own. Mar 10, Michael Huang added it Shelves: blinkisted. Jan 11, Michael Cayley rated it really liked it Shelves: misc-nonfiction. As a simple example, studies suggest that people are happier if they have just enough wealth not to have to worry too much about money than if they are very rich.

Paul Dolan cites lots of academic studies, and I found myself wondering how far some of them were were statistically reliable. But his overall thesis is surely right. With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for letting me have an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Mar 09, Jen rated it really liked it.

While the arguments in the 4. I found the chapters about income and self determination pretty eye opening. Feb 10, Lynn Brown rated it liked it. Based on the description for this book I thought I was going to be reading a self-help book. But instead I found it to be more like a text book for academics on the subject of happiness complete with graphs, or in the case of my kindle ARC no graphs, which wasn't helpful. I can only assume if you buy the kindle edition there will be graphs. I was off to a bad start with this book when the author proclaimed that as an LSE professor he was not expected to swear.

He then goes on to say that there is Based on the description for this book I thought I was going to be reading a self-help book. There is however evidence to suggest that students pay more attention to a teacher who swears! That's my exclamation point. The author then says that swearing is only ever harmful when it is aggressive or abusive and proceeds to litter the book with swearing as if to prove his point.

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This I found unnecessary and crude and felt it didn't help me learn in the slightest. The book carries this rather sanctimonious attitude throughout and really I felt I was being preached at. Yes, there are studies in the US and UK reported with "x" results - but we all know about statistics! I thought this book was going to be a little bit more real life than quoting research at me.

At the beginning of each chapter you are asked two questions about yourself and then the same two questions thinking about them in relation to a friend - at the end of each chapter the conclusion is then revealed. When I wrote papers my conclusion had to be a paragraph - succinct, sum up what I had written. Unfortunately the conclusions in this book were so long winded and over many pages, that I lost the point of the conclusion.

There were a few glimpses of things that I thought - "now this is interesting" but they passed and in the main I found the book unappealing. If you are going to be writing a thesis I can imagine you will find plenty of material to quote in this book.


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If you are just someone interested in being happier maybe look up the art of hygge! I'm giving this book 3 out of 5 stars. May 03, Anne rated it really liked it Shelves: non-fiction. Paul Dolan is a psychologist and this is an educated and well researched book but it is for everyone to read as it is truly fascinating. We have a social norm set up for us and we strive to be "happy" by achieving that norm and woe betide you if you deviate in any way.

But Mr Dolan suggests that to be really happy "we need to move from a culture of 'more please' to one of 'just enough'".