Monday, July 16, 2007

Happiness

I didn’t think I was particularly unhappy. OK, so I don’t bound around with Labrador-like enthusiasm all day, but nor do I spend my free time in darkened rooms listening to Leonard Cohen.

The feel-good emotion appeared today in many forms: the yellow lilies I bought for my mum; the cats’ purred greetings when I arrived home; the golden-bodied, gauzy-winged dragonfly; the touch of the Grey Mare’s velvet muzzle and smell of her silken neck; the officer of the law, head back, mouth open, snoozing in his car where the dual carriageway of the A1 funnels into one. He made me laugh out loud: the ultimate sleeping policeman.

Admittedly, there were also annoyances: the persistent overnight rain that left pools on the road (dried up now); the person I had arranged to interview who put me off until tomorrow; the fact that god-awful Umbrella song is still No1. Minor irritations really; certainly insufficient to plunge me into a deep depression.

That’s what I thought anyway, at least until I took the Happy Planet Index test. Apparently, I am below the international, UK and female happiness average. I am on a par with people from Burkina Faso (I suppose I might be rather perturbed if I lived in a place where I couldn’t pronounce the capital city). My life expectancy is also below average. Is it because I live alone, in a shock, horror, terraced house? Perhaps I should have marked extra boxes for the cats.

Then I looked below the headlines and realised something didn’t quite add up. The results advised me to stop smoking (I’d ticked the box saying I was an ex-smoker) and take more exercise – I’d marked the ‘I take exercise five to seven times’ a week option, the maximum in the survey (horses don’t look after themselves, you know).

It would seem the little person sitting in cyberspace marking these surveys wasn’t reading the responses properly: either that or they were trying to turn their predictions of doom and gloom into self-fulfilling prophecies. Perhaps I won’t spend the evening sitting crying on the kitchen floor, after all.

22 comments:

Brom said...

I had similar results, plus a huge Carbon footprint!! I did well on the personal feelings though even though my life expectancy was below average.

Maybe I'll take a nap next to the Policeman on the motorway tomorrow morning to destress!!

Omega Mum said...

Part of living in this country successfully requires you not to be too cheerful. It might spread and then where would we be.

Drunk Mummy said...

I agree with Omega Mum - if you were tirelessly cheerful we wouldn't trust you - or we would reckon you were on drugs.

IsobelMagsBuchan said...

Perhaps I am doing something wrong? My results were way over the average UK and 'not bad' whatever that means. My life expectancy is spot on for the UK, surely a mistake (!)and my ecological impact (which to be honest I did expect to score well on) was way, way below the UK average.

So I must be going wrong somewhere. Thought provoking if nothing else but I can't leave my car at home because I don't have one!

Iota said...

My results were dreadful, although I thought I'd been quite upbeat in my answers (oh dear!). I got stuck on the question about how often I eat meat, since it specified "such as sausages, hot dogs, a slice of bacon or similar", and I pondered what could be similar to those things, but not those things. At that point it became a bit like 20 questions without anyone giving me any answers to help.

Thanks for an interesting exercise, M&M.

Lord Straf-Bilderberg said...

That's what comes of giving more than a little credence to external things like surveys etc. which purport to show us something about ourselves. Like the astrological forecast, we don't actually believe them and can explain them away but still ...

Strong people who know themselves thoroughly [not me by the way but I do know such a person]can laugh at such things.

Mopsa said...

I will try the test when I get back from London tonight (yuck). Your sunny picture and unpronounceable capital has sent me off on my travels in good cheer. Thank you.

Gill said...

Join the church of the universal ladyboy- we have gone all happy clappy darling!

Gill said...

I just tried to do the test but it wouldn't let me because I have absolutely no idea of how much I weigh and no way of finding out.

rilly super said...

that's nothing M&M. I took an online happiness test right after doing an internet life expectancy test and my PC printed out a prescription for anti-depressants right there and then, sigh

The Rotten Correspondent said...

Perhaps if the test scorers listened to more Bay City Rollers they'd feel happier. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Your horse is a cutie!

Yorkshire Pudding said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yorkshire Pudding said...

Another interesting post madam. However, being a lifelong fan of Leonard Cohen I am perturbed that you would equate him with misery and depression. The guy is a gifted poet who can explore misery from time to time but these explorations can have the effect of making the listener feel less alone - the sense that somebody else has been down those dark corridors too. This is heart-warming. For a better misery equation try George Michael or Take That - all a bunch of irritating and superficial pillocks!

ziggi said...

there's nothing wrong with sitting on the kitchen floor and having a good bawl - very therapeutic I'll have you know!

Anonymous said...

Hmm.. I think the Chinese are bang on the button about happiness - it is a butterfly which one has to allow to alight on one's shoulder, instead of wasting a load of time, money and energy chasing the damn thing away..

@themill said...

I'm with YP on Leonard Cohen - the nephew tells me Travis is 'music to commit suicide to'
BTW have you seen Rilly's teddy?

lady macleod said...

So basically you're fine, but the chap taking the survey needs Xanex.

I think I'll skip this one. I like making up my own happiness test like: when was the last time I went shopping? when was the last time I watched a good blow 'em up movie? when was the last... all right we won't talk about that!

Stay at home dad said...

Personally I don't trust anyone who isn't miserable... what upside is there if you're happy?

Mopsa said...

I'm most embarrassed to say that my result is above that for any country and my life expectancy is 89.9. My mother is exactly that age at the moment. No doubt I will be run over by a tractor in the next month and bugger up their tidy predictions.

Arthur Clewley said...

mopsa, I cerainly hope you don't get run over next month. That'll skew the averages for averyone and then those damn questionaires will never be accurate!

Anonymous said...

Hmm.. I wouldn't worry about that 'life expectancy' thing. This is a bit like 'credit scoring' - more of an art than a science. Bizarrely, your credit rating would shoot up if you had a telephone installed. Nothing changes about you, but you are in a 'pool' of people with some slightly different characteristics.

A bit like a recent survey about the drinking of wine and health. Wine drinkers ARE more healthy, and some of that may be due to the wine - but may also be heavily influenced by the fact that many wine drinkers eat more fruit and vegetables than people who don't.

Of course, if one is the type of person who worries about surveys, that in itself is a 'risk factor' which you would do well to avoid..

Karen said...

I think the "stop smoking" advice is general as it suggested that I could quit smoking to increase my life expectancy even though I said that I had never smoked!

I think my overall results were similar to the average for the UK but had a smaller carbon footprint - as I can't afford to go on holiday so don't fly!