Almost 2/3 of 18-24 year-olds use their mobile phones to access social network sites, far more than elsewhere. More than 1/3 of TV’s sold in the UK in the past year were super large or jumbo sized.
Ofcom sees these as clear examples of a ‘go-ahead’ culture, but there is another way of reading these figures. Which is that they reveal a ‘square-eyed’ people, who are increasingly living their lives at one removed from real contact and who have seized upon this new technology because it compensates for our national weaknesses. We tend to be socially wary, to hide more than we show, closed to unexpected real-world meetings and conversations – and rather too hooked on work. It may be no coincidence that when league tables of happiness are complied, the UK is in the bottom half of the charts.
Here are the things that countless studies show make us happy. These are the top ten:
1. Do things for others
2. Connect with people, especially friends
3. Exercise regularly
4. Take time to appreciate things around you
5. Try new things
6. Have a sense of direction – goals, that you can adapt over time
7. Bounce back! (Resilience)
8. Focus on happy rather than sad moments whenever you can.
9. Accept yourself, warts and all
10. Find meaning: belong to something bigger than yourself: clubs, societies, religion.
Amazingly none has much to do with money, economics, work or gadgets. Many of us find that it’s in those moments we are not striving, acquiring, pushing ourselves forwards, that we are happy.