Friday, 25 February 2011
Work, Sleep and Bicycles
They're at it again - trying to measure our happiness - an endeavour based in the utilitarian thinking of Bentham and Mill, though the utilitarians never got very far with it, and what they meant by happiness was probably closer to well-being. Asking that question 'Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?' seems unlikely to yield any very useful results, but it's interesting to read Mark Easton's piece with its splendid graphs, all seeming to establish that being in work (with a short commute), getting plenty of sleep and riding a bicycle are the keys to happiness. (Similar methods, I believe, can show that having religious belief correlates strongly with happiness, as does being married.) I suppose I'd agree with work and sleep - work in the broadest sense that is, incorporating much more of what we do in our lives than our paid employment. Sleep or the lack of it certainly has a huge impact on state of mind, but it's hard to see how the state could do much about insomnia. For myself, I'd opt not for cycling but for walking. This seems to me the activity most conducive both to well-being (physical and mental) and to happiness - and it's a whole lot safer than riding a bike to work. So Work, Sleep and a Pair of Feet will do me.