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How can happiness be measured?

10:09 UK time, Monday, 15 November 2010

An attempt to officially measure how happy people are in the UK could be launched by the Government. Is it important to measure happiness and wellbeing?

While in Opposition, David Cameron called for "general wellbeing" to be assessed alongside traditional economic indicators as there was "more to life than money". Almost 30 MPs have signed a Commons motion calling for the move, arguing that promoting happiness and well-being is a legitimate and important goal of government.

Previous surveys have indicated that the UK's happiness has remained broadly static for at least 25 years.

Should factors other than economic indicators be used to measure the success of a nation? Is it the government's job to be promoting happiness and well-being? Is there more to life than money? Is this the best time to be assessing the happiness of the nation? What in life makes make you happy?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    It is about achieving once's personal or natural goals as demonstrated in Maslows higher archery of needs....now design a society that delivers?


  • Comment number 2.

    It`s measured by good friends, a loving family and good health. Mind you having enough money not to have to worry about paying the bills also helps.

  • Comment number 3.

    Another load of crap served hot and steaming by the government.
    This is just a classic distraction away from something important.
    You watch and see, something big will land just as everyone is chattering about this inane drivel.

  • Comment number 4.

    I would be highly sceptical about any move to measure our collective 'happiness'. They might use it as a means of taxation - the happier you are, the more tax you pay.

  • Comment number 5.

    How can we measure the happiness of the general population?

    If many posts are to be believed, by the number of bankers dangling from lamp posts.


  • Comment number 6.

    Happiness is not a matter of externals it is from within.
    As such,it cannot be measured.

  • Comment number 7.

    what a non story !!

    Get real BBC HYS and give us some real discussions!

  • Comment number 8.

    In my experience people tend to have the same levels of happiness as their parents. In other words, it's all down to how one is brought up. Happy parents bring up happy children. Miserable, unhappy parents tend to bring up miserable, unhappy children.

  • Comment number 9.

    What in life makes make me happy? Being married to my beloved wife. It's certainly not money, as we never had any, at least none spare, though luckily there has always been enough. If there's a job heading a quango that investigates the country's happiness, please don't offer it to me, as I'm having a great time already.

  • Comment number 10.

    I thought we had seen the last of this sort of nonsense after the election, obviously not......

    Mr Cameron is quite right though, there is more to life than money - but try telling that to someone living off £65 a week who looks like they will be losing their house or indeed having the pittance that is their benefits cut. Very easy to say when you have millions in the bank!

  • Comment number 11.

    At 10:53am on 15 Nov 2010, Jethro Tull wrote:
    I would be highly sceptical about any move to measure our collective 'happiness'. They might use it as a means of taxation - the happier you are, the more tax you pay.

    ____________________________________________________________________________________
    Oh dear, that's me in the 90% band for a start. On the other hand, 90% of nothing doesn't sound to be very much. Perhaps I can afford that.

  • Comment number 12.

    It sounds like another money-wasting idea, completely pointless. Maybe it could help reduce the deficit by not spending tax-payers money on such pointless ideas?

  • Comment number 13.

    Oh joy.

    At the moment MPs often in interviews have a really annoying habit of tellingh us what we think. You'll often here an MP make baseless claims such as 'I think you'll find that most of teh British Public fully sipport these measures'.

    Now they will be able to tell us how happy we are as well.

    How thoughtful, and not at all patronising at all, in any way.

    If i didn't know better I'd say the coalition had nicked the concept from the 'big book of great ideas' left behind by the previous incumbants.

  • Comment number 14.

    Very pleased to see the Government staying resolutely focussed on deficit reduction involving not wasting money and effort on utterly stupid ideas. Eee by 'eck: you'd think we were still working under the Nu-Labour paradigm.

  • Comment number 15.

    To be happy with what you have is happiness. Unfortunately there are people who dont understand happiness and relate it to whatever is out of reach and not yet in their grasp. These people will never be happy as long as they believe that is happiness.

    Being happy when you have more is an unachievable asparation because there is always more. Some people quantify happiness by the number of friends they have. This is an unstable happiness because when a friend falls out with them they lose that happiness quickly.

    The easiest example of this is women although guys are just as bad but in varying ways. How many women are unhappy with their weight? How many wont go out without makeup (unhappy about appearance)?

    The idea of being generally happy is an interesting one and I would like to know what the gov find out.

  • Comment number 16.

    Hey BBC, can you not see when you're being manipulated into running garbage like this rather than what those in government would like to keep out of the media. This is not what we pay (£800,000) for.

  • Comment number 17.

    The all New Ministry of Happiness is coming to a town near you - bringing joy to all!

  • Comment number 18.

    Rather than trying to measure happiness, the government should be helping people to learn how to be happy. Too many people seem to think that happiness is something that comes to them. In fact happiness is a state of mind that can be learned. You have to learn to appreciate the good things in life that you have rather than dwelling upon the bad things or thinking too much about what others have. It is possible to have misfortune and still be a happy person.

  • Comment number 19.

    Previous surveys have indicated that the UK's happiness has remained broadly static for at least 25 years.

    Boy is that going to change in the next 12 months.

  • Comment number 20.

    Like most wealthy people David Cameron has in the back of his mind that one day those, for whom life is a struggle because of lack of money, will demand that gross inequalities in wealth are ironed out, and only vote for MPs that have a positive record in this regard.

    He presumably hopes that using phrases like "more to life than money" will help suppress demands for social justice, and that an index of "general wellbeing", suitably cooked to show an upward trend, will convince people who do not share this feeling that it is their own fault and not the result of government policies favouring the rich.

  • Comment number 21.

    I am flushed with a huge sense of euphoria that this delightful government has the time, in between cutting everything in sight, to take my happiness ( or lack of it ) seriously. Jolly good show, I say. What a load of cobblers.

  • Comment number 22.

    17. At 11:14am on 15 Nov 2010, The Ghosts of John Galt wrote:

    The all New Ministry of Happiness is coming to a town near you - bringing joy to all!

    --------------------------------------

    Sounds remeniscent of the pied piper. I can just picture Cameron playing his flute leading us all into the utopia that is the "Big society".

  • Comment number 23.

    If, as you say, "the UK's happiness has remained broadly static for at least 25 years" as living standards have risen and GDP increased, I'd say that was the most profound evidence that chasing economic growth has not benefitted us in any way save materially.

  • Comment number 24.

    Onc's happiness in inversely proportional to his needs! It is as simple as that!

  • Comment number 25.

    Can happiness be measured? Yeah, probably fairly easily with a few questions and a couple of metrics.

    Mind you, if you were to give too much weight to HYS you'd be certain that everyone was really unhappy and very angry. And it's mostly someone else's fault apparently; Mrs Thatcher, Tony Blair, foreigners, the workshy etcetcetc; Take your pick. Makes you wonder what people are really unhappy about.

    ( btw #1 your "Maslows higher archery of needs" gave me a real laugh. Please tell me that was a deliberate pun :) )

  • Comment number 26.

    "And when memory failed and written records were falsified—when that happened, the claim of the Party to have improved the conditions of human life had got to be accepted, because there did not exist, and never again could exist, any standard against which it could be tested."

    The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them....To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies .

    O'Brien: The Law of Gravity is nonsense. No such law exists. If I think I float, and you think I float, then it happens.
    Winston Smith: I love you.

  • Comment number 27.

    More a case of what WOULD make me happy,delerious in fact. The abolition of the monarchy.

  • Comment number 28.

    Oh dear. This non-government is so inept it can't even be manipulative without its motives being horribly transparent. Of course this is a good time to encourage the populace to count their non-financial blessings - it's a lame attempt to divert attention from the fact that no-one's got any money! This would be disturbingly Stalinist ('Let us give thanks for our happy and productive lives unsullied by degenerate capitalist values, comrades!') if it wasn't so painfully obvious.

    Er, it *is* obvious, I hope?

  • Comment number 29.

    Smell's like a distraction.

    Keeping my eyes peeled for whatever this is supposed to distract us from.

    I trust this bunch in power as much as I trusted the last bunch, not a blooming lot!

  • Comment number 30.

    It's been tried and tested in other countries called 'Happiness Economics' and guess what..... Surprisingly many critics of the 'Happy Testing'

    say " Recently there has been concern that such 'happiness research' could be used to advance authoritarian aims."


    Why do you think 'call me Dave', the aristocratic multimillionaire, wants to introduce it. Mmmmmmm

  • Comment number 31.

    With a ruler.

  • Comment number 32.

    It used to be said of engineers that each had a pay threshold. Below this they were motivated by money, above it by job satisfaction.

    I suspect the same rules apply in general. If you do not have sufficient money for your needs you are unlikely to be very happy, above the threshold it is personal to each individual.

    Can happiness be measured, of course not; a completely rubbish idea and initiative. The sort of initiative designed to deflect rather than achieve.

  • Comment number 33.

    I would be a lot happier if the government concentrated on spending money on health, education and the legal system rather than on happiness surveys.

  • Comment number 34.

    "How can happiness be measured"? is the HYS question.

    Several issues:

    1) When will bank bail out cash be returned to taxpayers.
    2) Keep people in work - reduce hours or days, otherwise the economy will lose knowledge and training.
    3) Prosecute ageist/disabled media behaviour and from the Government too.
    4) Revision of regulations that MPs allowances/expenses are means-tested.
    5) Anti-social behaviour is criminal behaviour - full stop.

    So, ultimately, happiness in any society, boils down to a sense of fairness and protection of those who behave well being protected. Rather than those who behave badly being treated better? Yes, this last para' is clumsy and inarticulate - but it is increasingly tedious for the law-abiding to state the obvious to government?


  • Comment number 35.

    I measure mine in pints.

  • Comment number 36.

    The Grumble Index.

  • Comment number 37.

    Almost 30 MPs have signed a Commons motion calling for the move, arguing that promoting happiness and well-being is a legitimate and important goal of government.

    That sounds suspiciously like communist thinking. Or am i just being cynical?

  • Comment number 38.

    Now we have promised to cut all the quangos the government is now setting one up to measure how happy we are. I assume this will take thousands of interviewers and gangs of researchers to evaluate the results followed by hundreds of people to twist the results in the favour of the government and finally tens of civil servants to put the results into a language that no one will understand. Finally they will call it a great success.

  • Comment number 39.

    Politicians should ask the real question: Are people happy with their government? You'll more likely have a real consensus, though I still doubt most MPs would listen anyway!

  • Comment number 40.

    I'd write something profound but why give this crazy idea credence?

    We ain't 'appy Cammers, Ossers, Cleggers and the rest of you no good clods in Westminster Palace and it is all because of you and your banking cronies.... As Eddy from Waring almost says "string 'em up".

    (Aha, now the tranquiliser dart is having an effect.)

    Happiness comes from not dwelling in discontent.

    Thank you everyone and a Happy Monday To You All.

  • Comment number 41.

    One of the key questions that needs to be asked of people is whether and how often they feel obligated to lie about their levels of contentment and happiness. It is a major problem in our society. The idea that if people are not happy they are not well, and the real dangers of reprisals, socially and occupationally for not being happy and thus not being well, have grown immensely in recent decades. People are being stigmatized for not being happy, and are afraid to say that they are not happy and why. A lot of the issues concerning true happiness come from lack of adequate opportunities for real growth in terms of achievement of their potential. It also derives from being excessively worried about such matters as having gainful means, job satisfaction, freedom from physical and psychological abuse, and being "healthy". Those constant concerns can make people sick, robbing them of any real enjoyment of life. Of course there is a trend to consuming people's lives with worry about such worries. There are more barriers, and those too are not being openly discussed, as that too is being stigmatized. Settling for what is really inadequate, in terms of social relations (including compatible companionship), occupational opportunities, and in economic terms (particularly economic security), is the antithesis of happiness, and lacks sufficient quality. The quality of opportunities, for those desiring that potential and what it offers, tends to be the major obstacle to true happiness, as are situations of lack of real free choice. I believe it is important to understand both the nature and the amount of that discontent.

  • Comment number 42.

    Most studies show that the happier nations are the ones with fewer social divisions and a smaller gap between rich and poor.

    God - I'm feeling more miserable already...

  • Comment number 43.

    I live in the south east of England which is the one of the best of areas in one of the richest countries of the world.
    I am healthy, have a job and a loving family, I guess for a normal working class chap as myself.......This is as good as it gets.

    If I compare my lot with 90% of the worlds population, I am in the lucky 10% of the world and I guess most posters on this website are in this lucky 10%.

    Don’t get me wrong...I still moan a lot, but sometimes at times like this...I count my blessings.

  • Comment number 44.

    How ironic that the government responsible for creating welfare cuts and shrinking budgets for community projects is now concerned with measuring the happiness of the country. Perhaps they should do a test to see how miserable in fact, how more difficult, more divisive, less altruistic they have made the country? But to the question - HOW can happiness be measured. It can't be, nor should we try to. Happiness starts with an acceptance of reality, an genuine acceptance of the self, compassion for others and being present in every moment. I imagine though, the Tory's will try to measure it in terms on plasma TVs, savings, and religious affectations...

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    22. At 11:21am on 15 Nov 2010, corncobuk wrote:
    17. At 11:14am on 15 Nov 2010, The Ghosts of John Galt wrote:

    The all New Ministry of Happiness is coming to a town near you - bringing joy to all!

    --------------------------------------

    Sounds remeniscent of the pied piper. I can just picture Cameron playing his flute leading us all into the utopia that is the "Big society".
    ---------------------------------------------------------
    More dystopia than Utopia I think!

    Actually, its a reference to George Orwell's 1984! But more scary is the fact that such 'happiness indexes' have origins in the ideas of Buddhism - its a 'dark age' conceptualisation rooted in 'mystic spirituality' and other such irrational mystic nonsense - Using such a measure in any meaningful way is impossible - its completely subjective...also one might be a little concerned that in a rational world or rational government WHY would they promote such a nonsensical approach to 'measuring' our nations 'success' or 'improvements' - might it be because by all and any other more rational objective approach our nation is falling apart?

    Nice move Cameron - 2+2= whatever you desire it to equal - OFFICIALLY measures as our National Happiness - We all love Big Society Big Brother Dave!

  • Comment number 47.

    "How can happiness be measured"?

    In the UK - how about politicians - we elect, start behaving better on their salaries and allowances/expenseses that we, the electorate pay for.

    What this means in times of austerity, is that ALL MPs, MEPs, Lords and Ladies to set standards and cut costs for themselves, rather than imposing them on those they rule?

  • Comment number 48.

    What a waste of public money! - if the Government is so far out of touch with the public mood perhaps they should simply get out of their ivory towers and come and live amongst the real population rather than in their cosy world where anything can be proved with a survey!
    I had hoped that David Cameron was rather more down to earth than this - is he away with the fairies or what?

  • Comment number 49.

    ARE THEY HAVING A LARF ?

  • Comment number 50.

    I doubt that a tory policy on happiness would be relevant to those of us in Scotland.

    The obliteration of the conservative party up here certainly helped to put the happy-ometer up a couple of points though.

    More jobs would help many people, since self esteem is a huge factor in the general happyness of an individual, but the tories are a waste of space as far as job creation is concerned.

  • Comment number 51.

    According to a survey on QI (so it must be true) happiest nations have the smallest gap between rich & poor people.

    I guess that's because money is a hygiene factor (Herzberg's Motivators/Hygiene theory), so people with lots of money aren't cheered up by it, but people with no money are saddened by it!

    For me, I'm pretty happy today, work has been quiet and I founf my ipod (other mucis devices are available) and phone charger in my desk drawer!

  • Comment number 52.

    Surely it is better to measure unhappiness, as that is often easier to define.

    Finding that some are happy and others are not, or that some are happier than others, really doesn't help those unfortunates who always see their glass as half empty, which is surely the point of the excercise.

    If the government is serious about giving people a better and healthier frame of mind, it needs to address all those issues that are common up and down the country - anti-social behaviour, drunkeness in the streets and damage to property, speeding, benefit cheats, illegal immigrants and public waste are all areas where action is too often talked about, but where little or nothing is actually done.

    When we see that action is taken - giving anti-social offenders and drunks physical punishment, on the spot speeding fines, the impounding and auction of benefit cheats' assets, the deportation of illegal immigrants without trial or red tape, and greater efficiency of local and other authorities - the populace will see the evidence and feel that much better for it.

  • Comment number 53.

    An attempt to officially measure how happy people are in the UK could be launched by the Government. Is it important to measure happiness and wellbeing?

    Now, thats a GOOD USE OF TAXPAYERS MONEY. NOT!!!


    Almost 30 MPs have signed a Commons motion calling for the move, arguing that promoting happiness and well-being is a legitimate and important goal of government.


    Happiness is an INDIVIDUAL thing, some may be happy to just go on walking holidays in UK, others are not happy unless they can afford to pollute the planet by flying their family to a hot foreign country and stay in a place which has destroyed local eco systems, wildlife habitats and creates continuous environmental damage.

    Then theres the people who are just unhappy that others can create so much damage just to be happy for a week or 2.

    Individual happiness is NO reponsibility of government. If MPs and government want to help make people more happy, then they should STOP acting like MUPPETS and STOP meddling with peoples lives and making decisions wasting limited resources basically on that which is essentially I think is aimed at preserving their OWN position in power/government/parliament, via using such research to create/provide carrots for the electorate to gain re-election.

    Governments modern purpose is to act for and on behalf of the people of this nation. It is their JOB to manage our economic and social system to best outcome for the benefits of this nation and its people, main areas of duty to ALL the people of our Island nation includes:-

    1.Absolute and total care of duty to the nation and all its people.

    2.Sustaining the existance of the people in an obviously sustainable way, including a sustainable economy, energy, water and all those things as part of modern knowledge regarding sustainable living, including adequate military security to enable and guarantee and protect continued access to resources which support our existance.

    3.Protecting the rights and freedoms of our people, whether from internal or external threats.

    4.Maintaining and managing our hard gained social systems with a care of duty that puts the people of the nation first and foremost before any secular idealogical party political idealisms.

    Government is NOT duty bound or charged with measuring happiness of our people/nation, its job is just to get on with governing without the inclusion of stupid and petty minded wastefulness and ineptitude.

  • Comment number 54.

    37. At 11:37am on 15 Nov 2010, corncobuk wrote:

    Almost 30 MPs have signed a Commons motion calling for the move, arguing that promoting happiness and well-being is a legitimate and important goal of government.

    That sounds suspiciously like communist thinking. Or am i just being cynical?

    -----------------------------

    Depends how its done. Teaching people that they are happy is brainwashing. Taking actions to genuinly improve happiness and monitoring the level of happiness is a good thing.

    I would love the media to start promoting the achievements of the UK over the propaganda to make us feel bad. The news papers seem to be acting like the religious nutters by constantly pushing how bad we are. MMCC, shootings, hunting, driving, thinking, etc are all anounced regularly and we are told we are all sinners.

    I would prefer the media started to publish our achievements and pride of the UK (as a whole). Unified achievements and contributions to pull us all together again.

    We do good but only seem to hear of the bad.

  • Comment number 55.

    Post number 1 asserts -
    "It is about achieving once's personal or natural goals as demonstrated in Maslows higher archery of needs....now design a society that delivers?
    My comment -
    “higher archery”? , “design a society that delivers”? - well maybe Robin Hood was onto something – his followers were famed for being “merry men” - it must have been all the archery. The closest I get is the pub dart team – we are all merry by closing time too.

  • Comment number 56.

    Money can’t buy happiness and anyone who say’s it can is living a lie. In most cases money generates more greed, life is about much more than money and the sooner our Government relies that the happier our nation will become.

    I had my own house a lovely car a super-sports motorcycle and to pay for it all I worked 70 hours a week the only problem was I had no life outside of work and money.

    Having divorced back in 2005 I met a young lady 17 years my junior, she opened my eyes to happiness enabling me to enjoy not only our time together but time with our children something I never had time for in the past because I was always too busy working to pay the taxman the bills and the expensive life I was lead to believe was the right way to live.

    I now have no credit cards, no bank loans, no mortgage so in comparison my life is happier than ever before, my happiness was not brought about by my own reasoning or responsibility but by the women I married three years ago and the fact that she is happy with food in her belly the clothes on her back and the roof over her head, me & the kids.

    That’s happiness.

    This Governemnt isn’t interested in our happiness they’re interested in why we maybe happy how much money we have too make us happy and for most that happiness comes from owning flash cars, bikes, big houses and holidays so the Government maybe on the right track after all but I suppose if you call that happiness then that’s your loss I now know different.

  • Comment number 57.

    After a night on the booze funded by my midweek footy bet I woke up and drove in my nice car to mcdonalds for a hearty burger and fries breakfast and finished off with a nice smoke in the car park.

    gambling
    alcohol
    motoring
    junk food
    cigarettes

    All contributing towards my general happiness and all being taxed to death by the ruling clergy of the day.

    So you can make people happier by lowering taxes.

  • Comment number 58.

    Do they really want to do this? Are they really so disconnected that they do not know that they are the prime source of the misery in the land, they and their disreputable predecessors.
    Also this will become an “invaluable”, “essential”, “vital”, “tool” for civil servants, local authority functionaries. They never needed it before, but now they cannot consider anything else before considering the “happiness quotient” of potential decisions; delaying and requiring more functionaries! Or is this just a ploy to save the more pointless layers of state parasite?
    This is purely illusionary concept this is dependent on so many other personal, private, conceptual and irrelevant traits. Whether your team won, what you thought about tv last night, whether you have rowed with your partner. In the name of all the is sensible what possible use is this drivel? ANSWER: See last sentence previous paragraph.

  • Comment number 59.

    I believe we should set the benchmark 'to suit the UK' at zero, then we can see how other communities across the world compare. Most of my problems are caused by successive governments, they always do the opposit of what makes me happy.

  • Comment number 60.

    43. At 11:43am on 15 Nov 2010, Creamfresh wrote:
    I live in the south east of England which is the one of the best of areas in one of the richest countries of the world.
    I am healthy, have a job and a loving family, I guess for a normal working class chap as myself.......This is as good as it gets.

    If I compare my lot with 90% of the worlds population, I am in the lucky 10% of the world and I guess most posters on this website are in this lucky 10%.

    Don’t get me wrong...I still moan a lot, but sometimes at times like this...I count my blessings


    ----------

    I'm with you.

    If you look back through history, every indicator - adult literacy, infant mortality, individual free-time, standards of living etc. then its absolutely clear that the last 50 years or so have been the closest thing Britain's ever had to a 'golden age'. (although to a certain mind set the idea that we as a nation 'have never had it so good' is enough to induce apoplexy - it undermines their constant whinging about modern Britain).

    At the same time I find plans for the government to tell us how happy we are both a bit ridiculous and a lot patronising.

  • Comment number 61.

    You want to be happier?

    Its easy and simple

    Dont listen to the media

  • Comment number 62.

    46. At 11:49am on 15 Nov 2010, The Ghosts of John Galt wrote:

    22. At 11:21am on 15 Nov 2010, corncobuk wrote:
    17. At 11:14am on 15 Nov 2010, The Ghosts of John Galt wrote:

    The all New Ministry of Happiness is coming to a town near you - bringing joy to all!

    --------------------------------------

    Sounds remeniscent of the pied piper. I can just picture Cameron playing his flute leading us all into the utopia that is the "Big society".
    ---------------------------------------------------------
    More dystopia than Utopia I think!

    Actually, its a reference to George Orwell's 1984! But more scary is the fact that such 'happiness indexes' have origins in the ideas of Buddhism - its a 'dark age' conceptualisation rooted in 'mystic spirituality' and other such irrational mystic nonsense - Using such a measure in any meaningful way is impossible - its completely subjective...also one might be a little concerned that in a rational world or rational government WHY would they promote such a nonsensical approach to 'measuring' our nations 'success' or 'improvements' - might it be because by all and any other more rational objective approach our nation is falling apart?

    Nice move Cameron - 2+2= whatever you desire it to equal - OFFICIALLY measures as our National Happiness - We all love Big Society Big Brother Dave!

    ------------------------------------------------

    Indeed, dystopia is, in reality, a more accurate description. As you say, happiness is very subjective and in this reality it seems one mans happiness is another mans misery. During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.

  • Comment number 63.

    37. At 11:37am on 15 Nov 2010, corncobuk wrote:
    Almost 30 MPs have signed a Commons motion calling for the move, arguing that promoting happiness and well-being is a legitimate and important goal of government.

    That sounds suspiciously like communist thinking. Or am i just being cynical?
    ---------------------------------------------------

    I think you might be correct - its a funny feeling I am getting but more and more every day its becoming so damn obvious that our capitalists are communist and our communists are capitalist! Or more precisely, whatever they tell you - you can be very very sure they are all actually fascist mystic babblers of the Doctrine of Sacrifice - preaching the mystic babble of the Buddhism brand!

    Definition; Babbling - making approximate speech sounds, raising and falling intonation, and appears to understand the meaning of it. It appears to be an exercising of the vocal organs, and the ability to produce different sounds. Some find much pleasure in listening to babbling. Indeed the babbler experiences pleasure as well; such babbling represents a form of play which the babbler can control and enjoy. It frequently prompts a positive response from the listener and so increases the babblers pleasure in their own ability.


    Lets be clear - the very idea of an happiness index is straight out of the irrational mystic swamp of Buddhist nations! King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk was the first to employ the idea, using the phrase to signal his commitment to building an economy that would serve Bhutan's unique culture based on Buddhist spiritual values.....Way to go Camerooooon - Shall we call you Buddha now?

  • Comment number 64.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 65.

    57. At 12:02pm on 15 Nov 2010, ady wrote:

    After a night on the booze funded by my midweek footy bet I woke up and drove in my nice car to mcdonalds for a hearty burger and fries breakfast and finished off with a nice smoke in the car park.

    gambling
    alcohol
    motoring
    junk food
    cigarettes

    All contributing towards my general happiness and all being taxed to death by the ruling clergy of the day.

    So you can make people happier by lowering taxes.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Haha! I like it! The only thing is though, carry on like that and you'll be neither happy or sad - you'll be dead.

  • Comment number 66.

    They aren't thinking of taxing it are they??!?

  • Comment number 67.

    54. At 12:00pm on 15 Nov 2010, in_the_uk wrote:

    37. At 11:37am on 15 Nov 2010, corncobuk wrote:

    Almost 30 MPs have signed a Commons motion calling for the move, arguing that promoting happiness and well-being is a legitimate and important goal of government.

    That sounds suspiciously like communist thinking. Or am i just being cynical?

    -----------------------------

    Depends how its done. Teaching people that they are happy is brainwashing. Taking actions to genuinly improve happiness and monitoring the level of happiness is a good thing.

    ------------------------------

    I think a more insidious use is the manipulation of statistics, a realm politicians exceed in. The statistics say we`re happy so it must be true. It will be interesting to see which of the two options you mention the government will opt for. Personally i suspect it will be the stastistical route.

  • Comment number 68.

    Well, it's refreshing to hear of a politician - not least, a Tory one - voicing this sentiment. Yes of course there's more to life than money.

    Not sure "Happiness" isn't too vague a concept to measure properly, of course. But it would certainly be good to see some sort of Quality-of-Life indicators being assessed alongside more traditional, economic concerns when talking about a country's progress.

    Anyway; well said, Davey-bwoy!

  • Comment number 69.

    HYS - "What in life makes make you happy?":

    Of course, we all have our own idea of what makes us happy / feelgood. It's a personal thing - so I can only speak for myself:

    SOCIETY:
    Where there is consideration OF all - BY all.
    Where common-sense and responsibility prevail.
    Where neighbours care for neighbours - and even strangers.
    Where Parents teach their Children basic responsibility and knowledge.
    Where young Girls think morality instead of rushing for 'Benefit-Babies'.
    Where couples think more responsibly before commiting to a relationship.

    GOVERNMENT:
    Does not stifle us ALL with PC - just because the tiny few incompetents.
    Ensures EQUAL (non-PC) Justice for BOTH sexes.
    Enforces Judicial Penalties - that FIT the crime.
    Ensures Parents are raising their Children acceptably.
    Penalises bad Parenting - even if there is only ONE Parent.
    Fights 'spin' and tells the truth - even if the truth hurts.

    CRUCIALLY:
    Makes a deal with ALL States / Nations that allows us to DEPORT all their Law-breaking immugrants - even if it means stopping our 'Aid' to them...
    Where the BASIC wage will cover ALL basic needs.
    Where it's NOT neccessary for BOTH Parents to work - JUST to pay the Bills.
    Where people have TIME to do the things that make them happy.

    PERSONALLY:
    I'm for the SIMPLE, basic life. (a log-cabin would be ideal).
    TIME to pursue my personal interests - NOT just living to WORK.
    OCCASIONAL visits from my Family & Friends.
    Helping & liasing with my neighbours.
    Photography. Reading. Painting. Learning. Making. Music. Traveling...

  • Comment number 70.

    Happiness is entirely relative to your current circumstances. Having been homeless some years back, I discovered happiness is a roof over my head. During that time someone showing kindness by buying me a cup a tea or giving me a lift made me a happier, not by the action, but by the understanding behind it.

    Sadly, any measure of happiness will doubtless be decided by the quiche eaters in the ivory towers in Hampstead rather than by the old boy who used to go twice a week to the local Working Man's club for a cheap pint and meet his mates, but no longer can because the club closed due to the smoking ban.

    The BBC reported a couple of weeks back that, by some international measure, the happiest countries are in Scandinavia, which also, as the article pointed out, have the closest gap between rich and poor. So the measurement of happiness already exists, but since the UK did very poorly and the reason won't sit well with the wealthy, I fully expect some very careful selection of candidates in a UK survey to make sure the required results are found. But then I don't believe a single word the government (of any flavour) says about anything anyway.

  • Comment number 71.

    63. At 12:05pm on 15 Nov 2010, The Ghosts of John Galt wrote:

    37. At 11:37am on 15 Nov 2010, corncobuk wrote:
    Almost 30 MPs have signed a Commons motion calling for the move, arguing that promoting happiness and well-being is a legitimate and important goal of government.

    That sounds suspiciously like communist thinking. Or am i just being cynical?
    ---------------------------------------------------

    I think you might be correct - its a funny feeling I am getting but more and more every day its becoming so damn obvious that our capitalists are communist and our communists are capitalist! Or more precisely, whatever they tell you - you can be very very sure they are all actually fascist mystic babblers of the Doctrine of Sacrifice - preaching the mystic babble of the Buddhism brand!

    Definition; Babbling - making approximate speech sounds, raising and falling intonation, and appears to understand the meaning of it. It appears to be an exercising of the vocal organs, and the ability to produce different sounds. Some find much pleasure in listening to babbling. Indeed the babbler experiences pleasure as well; such babbling represents a form of play which the babbler can control and enjoy. It frequently prompts a positive response from the listener and so increases the babblers pleasure in their own ability.


    Lets be clear - the very idea of an happiness index is straight out of the irrational mystic swamp of Buddhist nations! King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk was the first to employ the idea, using the phrase to signal his commitment to building an economy that would serve Bhutan's unique culture based on Buddhist spiritual values.....Way to go Camerooooon - Shall we call you Buddha now?

    ------------------------------------

    Cameron, the Dalai Harmer ;-)

  • Comment number 72.

    well I don't Know how other people measure happiness ?

    But if you have to try to measure it ,then you you might not be happy !

    Have said that .. IF I had to measure personal happiness it would included

    Being warm,being in reasonable health having, enough to eat ,not being pestered . at one with my God AND LASTLY .. access to the off button on my TV

  • Comment number 73.

    Ireland are going cap in hand to the EU for a bailout (Payment for voting 'Yes' to the Lisbon Treaty methinks) and this is the HYS we get?

  • Comment number 74.

    How can happiness be measured?

    How about getting your gas boiler, providing basic hot water and heat, getting fixed without being ripped off?

  • Comment number 75.

    Am I in the right queue for my medication?

  • Comment number 76.

    Fortunately it cannot, not even by this miserable government. It is a state of being. Or as Sophocles said: 'Call no man happy until he is dead'. Presumably with welfare cuts and health cuts, this government will be making a lot of people prematurely happy.

    They slash education spending and come up with this trendy but wholly nonsensical suggestion.

    However, I am sure that overpaid psychologists will produce mindless questionaires.

    Worth noting that assessments of happinness are conducted on cows. Apparently happy cows produce more milk. See. Happinness is good for profits. Now that is something to invest in.

  • Comment number 77.

    Like beauty, happiness is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Comment number 78.

    Things which make me happy:

    Getting control of the remote.
    Snuggling with a nice boy.
    Disney films.
    Being told I look nice.
    My friends being idiots (in the way only they can).
    People letting me out in traffic (and people doing the thanks you hand if I let them out).
    Sunshine.
    Someone making me a brew.
    Chocolate, cakes, crisps, cheese.
    Good, hppy, harmless music- not intended to make you think, just to enjoy.
    Late nights, early nights, lie-ins etc.
    My team winning at sport.
    Me winning at anything.
    Doing something unexpectedly nice for someone else.
    Making someone else smile.
    Seeing people I've not seen in ages, but it feeling like I only saw them yesterday.

  • Comment number 79.

    It's official... our leaders are complete and utter morons!

  • Comment number 80.

    14. At 11:06am on 15 Nov 2010, Christopher Styles wrote:

    Very pleased to see the Government staying resolutely focussed on deficit reduction involving not wasting money and effort on utterly stupid ideas. Eee by 'eck: you'd think we were still working under the Nu-Labour paradigm.

    ______________________________________________________

    At hat point did you think the ConDem coalition would be any more of an improvement? Be honest!

  • Comment number 81.

    77. At 12:25pm on 15 Nov 2010, Dai the Tie wrote:
    Like beauty, happiness is in the eye of the beholder.

    ****

    I think it's spelt beer-holder

  • Comment number 82.

    Be very careful what you say in any questionaire on happinness. It is very clear what Cameron is after. Separate happinness from wealth, as most are suggesting on HYS. Then introduce a happinness tax which will not necessarily hit Cameron's rich pals. In fact unhappy bankers might be due for a tax rebate.

  • Comment number 83.

    Politicians being honest and no longer using tax payers money on themselves ........ Extremely happy

    Politicians actually caring about those living in this country instead of those abroad ......... Extremely happy

    Enough properly paid jobs with wages you can truly live on .......... Extremely happy

    People actually thinking of and helping others instead of screwing each other over for profit ......... Extremely happy

    Now back to the real world .........

    Watching Family Guy ........ Extremely happy, laughing all the way

    Watching the X-Factor unfold ........... Now where did I put that razor !!

  • Comment number 84.

    Happiness on HYS would be more space for others - rather than 'Ghost' and 'corncobuk' fighting each other?

    Bhutan has the prize - but let's focus on UK please, you two?

  • Comment number 85.

    4. At 10:53am on 15 Nov 2010, Jethro Tull wrote:

    I would be highly sceptical about any move to measure our collective 'happiness'. They might use it as a means of taxation - the happier you are, the more tax you pay.

    ____________________________________________

    No that's New Labour, with the Tories the more happy you are the less they spend on things you need.

    Either way we should try not to smile so much!

  • Comment number 86.

    #65 Len Day wrote:
    57. At 12:02pm on 15 Nov 2010, ady wrote:

    After a night on the booze funded by my midweek footy bet I woke up and drove in my nice car to mcdonalds for a hearty burger and fries breakfast and finished off with a nice smoke in the car park.

    gambling
    alcohol
    motoring
    junk food
    cigarettes

    All contributing towards my general happiness and all being taxed to death by the ruling clergy of the day.

    So you can make people happier by lowering taxes.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Haha! I like it! The only thing is though, carry on like that and you'll be neither happy or sad - you'll be dead.
    --------------------------------------------------------

    No. He'll be dead happy.

  • Comment number 87.


    One can grasp the true meaning of this drivel to measure happiness by the nature of the measure! It might be a concise coherent rational sum of all the achievements of LIVING or it might be a measure to identify the citizens success in achieving a state of existence in the avoidance of death! And lets face it - if you exist in poo, but the alternative is death - I am sure most folk might indicate their personal happiness in existing in poo!

    Nice one! Dalai Harmer cam io doom!

  • Comment number 88.

    84. At 12:32pm on 15 Nov 2010, corum-populo-2010 wrote:

    Happiness on HYS would be more space for others - rather than 'Ghost' and 'corncobuk' fighting each other?

    Bhutan has the prize - but let's focus on UK please, you two?

    _______________________________________________

    I sense slight resentment there...?

    To be honest I find it hard to keep up with people who argue all the time, I can never work out how the debate started, do you think they can?

  • Comment number 89.

    84. At 12:32pm on 15 Nov 2010, corum-populo-2010 wrote:
    Happiness on HYS would be more space for others - rather than 'Ghost' and 'corncobuk' fighting each other?

    Bhutan has the prize - but let's focus on UK please, you two?
    -------------------------------------------------------------

    But we are agreeing - not fighting? How odd you are corum-populo-2010 - As far as I am aware the nature of virtual internet 'space' on such forums kind of makes the concept of a 'limited' or finite space for expressing ideas a little redundant! - Happiness on HYS would be lots of rational, logical arguments and observations rather than the usual drivel and nonsense! ;-)

  • Comment number 90.

    I'd be a lot happier with junk food taxed, to pay for the damage eating it causes.

  • Comment number 91.

    76. At 12:22pm on 15 Nov 2010, Dr Llareggub wrote:


    //Worth noting that assessments of happinness are conducted on cows. Apparently happy cows produce more milk. See. Happinness is good for profits. Now that is something to invest in.//

    Oh - now it all makes sense!

  • Comment number 92.

    Further to my previous post:

    Things which make me unhappy:

    Knowing something I did made someone else unhappy
    People dying
    Old people being lonely (I creid like a baby at the start of Up!)
    People I like going on reality shows (grrr Aiden leaving on X factor!)
    Too much work
    Too little work
    Having no money
    Being hungry ( I get very moody if I'm hungry- my ex used to have a spare bag of crisps around at all times when I was there, just in case!)
    Being tired, or having slept too much
    Being alone
    Hangovers

  • Comment number 93.

    Frankly i don't mind missing out on a night out as its so prohibitively exspensive these days, but if the government are intent on doing something to increase happiness, then make it easier to by food. I am not talking about microwave meals or a trip to Macdonalds - You can taxt those till your blue in the face. to make a simple apple crumble the other day, cost the better part of a fiver. this is not at all acceptable. It should not cost so much to put a meal together. We're gonna end up like America where its cheaper on the whole to eat out and that just ins't good enough.

  • Comment number 94.

    If you want to purge some unhappiness why not scrap HYS. I only check in here, hoping for some reasoned debate, when I can find some time which is not so often, but whenever I do, it seems to be the sad home for those with not much else to do, and who are just ripe for a moan from the sidelines and a swipe at everyone and everything. There is rarely much which is positive or constructive posted. I suppose it does provide an outlet for the frustrated though, so on second thoughts, perhaps HYS is itself a vehicle for happiness that the government could monitor

  • Comment number 95.

    79. At 12:27pm on 15 Nov 2010, Joe wrote:
    It's official... our leaders are complete and utter morons!

    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    They've a long way to go before they are even as remotely as bad as the last lot. The last lot were nothing short of demonic and malicious in their zeal to destroy the very fabric of this nation. They sowed the seeds of our current discontent.

  • Comment number 96.

    I thought they were stopping nonsense quangos and being nosy into our business?
    Frankly with what is happening at the moment with the spending cuts, I suggest they practice what they preach and quit wasting our money on useless waste of time surveys. Its pretty obvious to everyone except the government that no one is happy which just shows how removed from reality they really are in the whitehall ivory towers.

  • Comment number 97.

    If the government has something to do with it don't count on any form of happiness.

  • Comment number 98.

    Now we know why the old Soviet citizens never smiled! - don't let the State know how happy your are - they will just take more off you!

  • Comment number 99.

    The country that measures happiness: Bhutan
    Sonam Choden, Senior Forest Officer with Nature Conservation Division in Bhutan's Ministry of Agriculture: “Oh yes, we are (happy). As compared to others, I feel we are happier than others because our quality of life is much better."
    Choden goes on to say that the people of Bhutan try and strike a balance between materialistic needs and spiritual needs. "Forests play a central role.”
    In this small Buddhist country, the government measures progress not by Gross National Product but by Gross National Happiness.
    Chodan points out that there are four pillars:
    1. preservation of culture
    2. preservation of the environment
    3. economic growth and development and
    4. good governance.
    The philosophy permeates: forest for livelihood, forest for food and medicine, forest for home, energy and bio-diversity.
    It's the Government's policy to promote culture. There is an academy, established by Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, which actively preserves and promotes Bhutanese art and culture. There are more than 250 forms of dance & music, all of them rooted in Buddhism.
    I use Bhutan as an example because I believe the key to happiness is: a balance between materialistic needs and spiritual needs.

  • Comment number 100.

    As Dame Helen Mirren has rightly pointed out - we are an angry and unhappy nation.
    Happiness is knowing that your children have grown up happy & safe and that your grandchildren are happy. It is knowing that you have a loving wife that you can share the twilight years of your life with. It is about being able to get out and travel to some of the breathtaking places that the world has to offer, and being healthy enough to get there. It is about having sufficient money in your pockets (not riches) to enjoy the simple things in life and be able to treat your family & friends. Its about having had a life that you can look back on and be proud of. Its about looking in the mirror and feeling comfortable and happy with what you see. Its about sharing quality time with your friends. Its about seeing the beam on the face of your little doggy when you get in from work at night. Its about jumping for joy when your team scores that winning goal in the last minute of injury time.
    If you feel those things, then you can class yourself as happy. I'm happy. I don't need the sodding government to research it and then tell me how to be happy!

 

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