A different way of surveying happiness

So David Cameron’ first results are back from his survey into  the nation’s happiness:

See the results here

In a nutshell – the majority of people (76%) rate their happiness in the UK as around 7 out of 10.


  • People who were unemployed reported lower levels on average compared with those who were employed
  • Married people are happier than single or divorced people
  • Teens and pensioners are more content with their lives than those in their late-30s

Nothing too startling here but one does have to wonder about that statistic of 76% rating their happiness as around 7 out of 10. Is this not a reflection of that typical northern hemisphere conversation:

“Good morning Mr Smith and how are you?”

“Fine, thank you. Can’t complain.”

I think most people really wouldn’t admit to feelings of happiness to someone that they don’t know that well. Also this ‘mustn’t grumble’ approach is one knocked into us from a young age:

  • ‘Stiff upper lip’
  • ‘Count your blessings – there are thousands more unfortunate than you’.
  • ‘Don’t be selfish’ etc. etc.

It makes for very dodgy happiness measuring, if you ask me.

What I’d like Mr Cameron to do is to hit the streets and ask:

  • Do you feel you are following your passions?
  • Would you say you are on track to fulfilling your full potential?

I’ve mentioned it before but I love Dan Pink’s measure of fulfillment:-

AUTONOMY  – feeling that we are in charge of our own destiny

MASTERY – experiencing ourselves getting better and better at something

PURPOSE – sensing that we are part of something bigger than ourselves

(See his TED speech here).

They should ask this question too – “how much do you feel you have Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose in your life?” Give each a percentage rating.

It would at least get people thinking.


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