The Pursuit of 21st Century Happiness

Despite a recent government survey revealing that we rate our lives as 7.4 out of ten on the happiness scale, freelance writer Dawn Kelly argues that our chances of contentment may be on the decline. Here, she explains why…
During our ancestors’ time you needed three things to be happy; someone to love, a great circle of friends and something to do that you are passionate about. They seem to have had this happiness malarkey nailed as according to The World’s Value Survey, Britain has displayed a steady decrease in happiness between the years of 1946 and 2006. But what is it that has caused this decrease in happiness levels? And what can you do to get your own happiness back on track?
Enjoy what you have
With the adaption of technology and the constant remodelling of our favourite items comes the dissatisfaction with what we already have. We are simply unable to enjoy the benefits of what we already own, because there is always something better to buy. I don’t pretend I’m any different, I mean, I'm convinced that when my online delivery from the sales has arrived I will be significantly more happy than I am right now. But
I’m also aware that it will be a very short lived pleasure. Once I have worn my new dress (red polka dot with a pussy bow neckline, if you’re wondering) a maximum of 3 times it will be a new online delivery kick that I will be craving.
Our generation seems to be obsessed with the pursuit of happiness, the thought that each new item will improve our happiness levels until we are about to explode with glee, but perhaps the solution is as simple as this – if you spend less time wanting new things, and more time enjoying what you already have, you are more likely to be happy.
Avoid the comparisons
Got a friend who has the perfect job, always has the latest technological gadgets and is constantly kitted out in new clothes? Of course you do, who doesn’t?
The important thing is not to compare your own life to theirs, (or to anyone else’s for that matter.) Just because they have certain things that you don’t does not mean that they are any happier, and you probably have something they really want (say, your glistening eyes) you just don’t know it.
Don’t let social media sites fool you
You log on to Facebook and there it is, one of your online friends has just bought a new pug, the photos are phenomenal, the owner smiling with delight as the creature performs several different poses for the world to see. You scroll down… ‘I’m going to New York, baby!’ a new status reveals, you want to go to New York, and you want a pug, it’s not fair, everyone is so much happier, right?
Wrong! Since the launch of Facebook in 2004, social media sites have been fooling us in to thinking that everyone else in the world is joyfully happy, (something that our ancestors didn’t have to compete with) but just remember that these same sites are full of people having a little show off (myself included) and people aren’t going to let their misery show to 347 online ‘friends’ (and if you do, stop. Please.)
Know that money does not buy happiness
Ok, you have probably heard this one on numerous occasions and I apologise if I sound like one of your parents/a clichéd teacher/patronising, but this one is a corker… money does not buy you happiness. According to The World’s Value Survey it is some of the poorest countries that have experienced the steepest increase in happiness levels since 1946. The rising levels of happiness in India, for example, suggest that there is little correlation between wealth and happiness.
So in this world of online gloating, can we be happy without the reoccurring desire to improve ourselves? Can we avoid the constant need to remodel our favourite items? Well, I like to believe we can! So let’s be grateful with the basic necessities of life, reap the benefits of the items we own and quit comparing ourselves to other people. Who knows, maybe next time I will consider closing my online shopping window, and wearing a dress I already have in my wardrobe…maybe.

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