How happy were you yesterday? Why am I asking this question? Well, the UK government decided a couple years ago they need an annual Happiness Survey.
The British Office of National Statistics (ONS) asks four questions in order to measure the country’s well being. One of them is: “Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?” The other three questions touch upon satisfaction with your life, whether things you do in your life are worthwhile and whether you felt anxious yesterday. Answers are given on a scale of 0 to 10. So utterly wretched to over the moon.
The ONS argues that ‘yesterday’ might vary among individuals and not be a typical day, but, since they quiz 165,000 people across Britain and Northern Ireland, the differences ‘average out.’
Last year’s study showed that people in Northern Ireland were the happiest while Londoners were fairly miserable. Apparently the happiest people in the nation live in the remote Scottish islands of Eilean Siar (Western Isles), Orkney and Shetland.
This week the ONS told us that commuters were unhappy. Really? They’re not jumping up and down with joy when they squish themselves into a crowded train or bus every morning? Ah ha! There are a lot of commuters in London but dare I say very few in the remote Scottish islands.
“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” John Lennon.
“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.” Oscar Wilde.
“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.” Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar.
“I must learn to be content with being happier than I deserve.” Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.
Best time to ask a British top brass whether they were ‘happy yesterday’ is after they attend happiness lessons this month organised by UK’s Ministry of Defence. During a one day course senior military officers will learn how to become “happiness activists.”
Yesterday I was happy when I was cuddled up with my two children reading. I was rather miserable picking them up from school in freezing sleet. Was I happy then yesterday? Or would my feelings have changed depending on what time of the day you asked me? I know what my answer would be if I had been relaxing on the beach watching my children play and run with joy in the sand.
After all, what makes us happy?
I had a look and it seems every study about happiness comes up with different answers. Childless couples have happier marriages but women without children were least happy according to recent research by Britain’s Open University. Some say the rich are happier others say they’re not. And so on.
Have a look at the posts when Sara in MumturnedMom asked bloggers to respond to her Prompt: “Happiness is anyone and anything at all loved by you” from the musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. (I am linking up with the Prompt too).
“Happy thou art not; for what thou hast not, still thou striv’est to get; and what thou hast, forget’est.” William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure.
“So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land!” J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan.
“Happiness is a gift and the trick is not to expect it, but to delight in it when it comes.” Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby.
So, what would your answer be if they called and asked you today…were you happy yesterday?