I’ve been thinking recently about the idea of happiness and what it takes to make people happy. Redundancy, followed by long periods of unemployment, has had a huge impact on our family morale. Whilst this hasn’t been brilliant for us, I’m well aware things could be worse. Working in a public library brings me into contact with people from all walks of life and everyone at the moment is feeling the impact of decisions made by people living far removed from their effects. I wonder if ministers care about the correlation between their decisions and the increasing amount of homeless people sheltering in my workplace every day, and that, because of their cuts, there will probably be ten times the amount of homeless than Library staff if the trend continues for much longer. That means less staff to help these people, to spend time with them, to help make just a few minutes of their day more bearable.
We all strive to be happy. Even the Government said they want us to be happy. Maybe you remember the ‘happiness agenda’ they created a couple of years ago? To remind us to be happy, just in case we’d all forgotten whilst going about our living our bleak, worrisome, ignorant little lives.
And how did David Cameron say he was going to approach this? “As to precisely what we are going to do and when we are going to do it, you should wait and see."
Right, so, no idea then.
According to Mr Cameron, “It's time we admitted that there's more to life than money, and it's time we focused not just on GDP but on GWB - general wellbeing.” And from this we derive that Dave can probably spell. What we also know, is that it’s much easier to say there’s more to life than worrying about money if you have the money you’re not supposed to be worrying about.
Downing Street, unsurprisingly, became much less concerned about how happy we were when people started to point this out. When people took to the streets of London to protest about the banking industry, camped outside St Pauls to make their voice heard, the establishment did everything in their power to get rid of them. When people from our disabled community used their precious time and energy to produce the Spartacus report, (a report whose very existence should not have been needed), they were treated to ministers telling them they were not entitled to be comfortable enough to be happy. It’s only going to get worse. It transpires, whoever you are, wherever you are, if you want to be happy you’re on our own. You make your own way. And if you encounter any problems, such as joblessness, illness, disability, homelessness, or all of the above- you’re on your own
I’d like to know, first of all, how he ever intended to measure our happiness. (I say intended, as he’s obviously not bothered about it now).
I mean, we all want to be happy don’t we? Unfortunately- and someone needs to point this out to Dave- it’s almost impossible to measure.
Let’s cover everyone here- as all of us, young and old, need to be happy: A baby clearly can’t tell you if it’s happy, it lacks the vocabulary. A toddler, whilst having some grasp of language, cannot yet communicate effectively, and in any case has moods so changeable they are seemingly only content for fleeting moments. Just as communication is starting to develop into something useful, they hit puberty. At this point, you have next to no chance of being able to get anything more out of them than a series of low moans or grunts. Attempts to derive any meaningful conversation are futile. By the time they reach adulthood, our children will have learned, like us, to carefully doctor our feelings according to our audience, revealing or masking our true emotions as we see fit. I have absolutely no idea how I would react is some self righteous toffs came knocking on my door asking, ‘Are you happy dear?’ For those of us who are brave enough to volunteer an honest opinion though, the message from Whitehall is, unless you’re speaking from a position of money,’ shut up, we don’t really want to know’.
I don’t know what the key to happiness is but I’m sure generation after generation have pondered the same eternal question and I’m sure a bit of money, the opportunity to work if you can, comfort, a home and friends and family bring you a hell of a lot closer to it. I’m also fairly certain, judging by their actions, Westminster do not really give a toss whether any of us truly are or not.