‘Happy’ New Year?

 

Over the last month I have said ‘Happy New Year’ to a lot of people as,  I am sure,  you have too. But surely this phrase begs the question: what does it mean to be ‘happy’? Measuring happiness, or ‘well-being’ as it’s often referred to has become increasingly popular in the last few years. Governments try to measure the well-being of the nation, usually from a fiscal perspective. However, by their own admission the ONS (Office for National Statistics) ‘is exploring existing indicators and datasets that measure societal wellbeing beyond economic growth.’1 Companies, particularly with larger workforces, have to put resources into making sure the well-being of their employees is promoted, realising that this often boosts productivity.  Schools in recent years and at curriculum level have been encouraged to nurture physical, emotional and spiritual well-being in pupils. There seems to be an increasing awareness of the many components that go towards making us happy, yet has there been any discernible increase in happiness?

So the festive season is upon us once again. Yippee! I hear you cry - or maybe not. Over the next few weeks we will dash around the shops to purchase presents and other Christmas goodies, all the time accompanied by Noddy Holder shouting 'It's Christmas!' and the iridescent flash of Rudolph's nose - deep joy. The Christmas and New Year editions of the TV papers will be out soon too. I, like many others, will be scouring the Radio Times red pen in hand to make sure I don't miss the unmissable; iPlayer notwithstanding of course. I think the Christmas special of Doctor Who will rank quite highly on our household's must see list, probably followed by a film we've already seen 20 times. And after Turkey with all the trimmings we can settle down for a snooze in semi-sozzled slumber. For this is the season of goodwill, where joy to the world rings out from every rooftop - or maybe not.