Last weekend The Sunday Times published its ‘Rich List’, and billing it as an ‘antidote to all the rich lists, celebrity lists, and wealth leagues’, The Independent on Sunday published its ‘Happy List’.
This ‘Happy List’ names 100 people whom the IoS claim ‘make Britain a better balanced, happier country’ – how they achieve this is not really explained, especially when according to psychologists, happiness is a subjective experience.
The list includes comedians (who make us laugh); former athletes who make the London Marathon possible (and we all know that fitness is linked to good mental wellbeing); actors (who entertain us, even if they play some of the most miserable roles on TV/stage); people who campaign for a safer world (eg ending child prostitution, tackling bullying, and promoting human rights etc); heroes and lifesavers; educationalists; youth workers; care workers; community workers; and volunteers.
Some are them are just doing their jobs, some are making money by their endeavours, and some are doing it because they care – and a small few have managed all three.
So, although most of them seem to be contributing to society in some way, whether they are making us happier is debatable. Instead could it be argued that rather than being indicative of happiness, the list simply serves one of three purposes: –
- To inspire others to achieve – in which case we too may achieve happiness;
- To invite us to make social comparisons with our own lives – and therefore feel better or worse depending on how we think we measure up against those individuals profiled;
- Or to simply try and position the IoS on the moral high ground?
Happiness is a complex topic – whether we’re talking hedonic happiness or eudaimonic happiness – talk to us if you want to understand it better and how it can be fostered in your workforce to increase well-being and productivity.