‘Were you born with happiness?’

April 15, 2011

No!? What, you weren’t born with a penis!!!! Ha ha ha. Good joke that. Brought hours of fun in the playground and made us all happy, at least for a bit. The thing that helped with its jokability and therefore its happiness inducing qualities was that it wasn’t an officially sanctioned joke by the school authorities nor was it the work of some cross class campaign group led by nerds. It was natural and all the better for it.

I’ve been reading a bit about Action for Happiness http://www.actionforhappiness.org/ and to be honest most of it makes me want to puke. For me, it’s the happiness anti-Christ. You don’t have to be overly cynical to think ‘for fuck’s sake’ when you read things like this:

Amandeep Hothi stood cheerily on the pavement holding aloft a sign offering, in pink letters, “Free Hugs”….The movement was launched yesterday at Jerwood Hall in the City of London, where the movement’s co-founder told attendees – who wore badges with slogans such as “Love more!” and “I’m up for more happiness!” – that they could “turn the rising tide of excessive individualism”.

Pleeeeease, stop. Now. This is happiness sanctioned by Innocent Drinks.

Anyway, that’s the cynical bit over with, because despite the very strong odour of death behind this outfit the principle – wouldn’t it be better if we were all a little bit less materialistic and did nice things like volunteer more – is a good one. I could sign up to something that helped me out with that. But I don’t consider hugging twats to be the best way of going about it.

An example. If my housing costs were, say, half what they are I could do more volunteering, spend more time with my wife and daughter and grow more things on my allotment. Unfortunately, the hamster wheel that capitalist society puts us all on doesn’t allow me to do that. I can budget down, not buy any new clothes and generally live quite frugally but there’s a certain limit you can’t get past. I don’t see Action for Happiness addressing these rather more fundamental questions about how we order society. I feel these are slightly more important to the question of overall happiness and – the thing Action for Happiness seems focused on – our ability to enjoy our own leisure time, doing things of our choosing (within limits that don’t make the planet burn etc etc). As it stands, Action for Happiness seems like window dressing that anybody could agree with and therefore I’m sure the Coalition will wholeheartedly be supporting it.


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