Friday, 6 November 2009

Happy People

In the beginning was the word and the word was “moustache”. I saw the beginnings of an awesome moustache tonight at the gym. The shape was there for a handlebar (circa 1890). In case you missed it, during the month of November while writers all over the world are indulging in the writing marathon that is Nanowrimo, a bunch of young/ not so young men will be growing and shaping the hairy stuff on their top lip to raise money for Prostate cancer. It’s called Movember, dontcha know.

As I already have the face fuzz, I sponsored one of the guys at the gym and bought a wrist band. You know how the Lance Armstrong (testicular cancer) one was yellow, to represent the yellow jumper? Guess what colour the prostate wrist band is? It wouldn’t be impolite to suggest it was shitty-brown. Someone clearly has a sense of humour.

The idea of all these young guys walking around with retro shaped moustaches tickles me. It’s all been about stubble or the goatee recently, with the poor moustache being relegated to a 70’s porn movie. This is me stroking mine (my moustache, rude girl) and wondering what shape I should make it.

It’s quite soothing. Stroking it. And I am all about the reduction of stress, am I not.

When faced with the western hunger for Things one might be tempted to try and reduce stress in your seek a more simple life. One way of reducing stress might be to emigrate. The place to go if you want a simple existence? Bhutan, my friend. This is a country where they measure the Gross National Happiness to define the quality of life of their inhabitants.

(According to Wikipedia) the term was coined in 1972 by Bhutan's former King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, (you’ve got to love a guy with that name) who has opened up Bhutan to the age of modernization, soon after the demise of his father, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. It signaled his commitment to building an economy that would serve Bhutan's unique culture based on Buddhist spiritual values.

While conventional (for conventional read every other freakin’ county in the world) development models stress economic growth as the ultimate objective, the concept of GNH claims to be based on the premise that true development of human society takes place when material and spiritual development occur side by side to complement and reinforce each other.

How cool would that be? Taking time to meditate would be just as important as putting in your 37.5 hours. Your boss would be pulling you in to his office, measuring your performance and saying – I’m telling you, like dude, turn off the machine every hour for 5 and do some like, navel gazing. OR, he gives you THAT tone and says – ok you hit that target, that target and that target but I didn’t see you smelling no roses, fella!

Methinks the good folks of Bhutan are on to something. Many of us are linking our happiness to the FT-SE100 or the Dow Jones. Does it work? Apparently purchasing power in the US has grown by 16% over the last thirty years. This is a shitload of consumption people, yet the number of folks calling themselves “very happy” has fallen over the same period from 36% to 29%. And that’s a shitload of prozac, people.

Some fella called Daniel Kahneman is quoted as saying “people have ready-made answer to many questions about themselves; they know their names, their address and their party affiliation. But they do not generally know how happy they are, and they must construct an answer to that question whenever it is raised.”

How happy are you? Do you know what happiness looks like? And if you’re saying it has a car shape or comes in a box with the name Manola Blahnik on it then you’re wilfully missing the feckin’ point.

Let me ask you happy are you? Do you know how to increase the gross happiness index in your life? If you don’t I want a report from you on my desk, first thing on Monday morning. Well, second thing... first thing is your half hour of Tai Chi.


  1. i am 'locally' happy, but not 'globally' happy. I'm pleased with the smaller, private pleasures in my life that make me happy and joyous. there are some big things that are a bit out of balance so i cannot say i'm globally happy. But happiness is fleeting, don't you think? it's all about balance with problems tossed in randomly to shake up the status quo. and even in those moments, i still have my smalls to hold on tight to. because i've had it all, lost it all. got some of it back. gave a lot away and found i still had a lot. and these were not things found in a box. what i have found that makes me most happy is when i make a decision and actually do something. (you have no idea how much i weigh things back and forth before i make commitments!)

  2. You hit the nail on the head, Thea. It's really all about balance. I'm not very good at the weighing things up thing. I tend to go by gut feeling. Sometimes it works. Sometimes...