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The Credit Crunch and Happiness

That Robert Peston has been busy lately, I reckon he's got a sleeping bag in the BBC Newsroom and is living off pot noodles and BBC sandwiches! Still, it's an ill wind that doesn't blow anybody any good... One thought around is that the banking crisis could set off another "depression" like we had after the Wall Street crash of the late 20's, awful suffering, hardship, privation. Not the kind of thing that BBC Three viewers were looking forward to once they'd got their degree in sociology and moved out of the safety of the family home.

Can websites build a local community?

My street doesn't have a central meeting place where people bump into each other. In the old days you would have the well or the pump where people had to go for water - you'd bump into other people there and have a chat and a gossip. More recently there was the corner shop which was a place people popped in on an almost daily basis. I grew up in a corner shop and I remember it as a warm welcoming place where people went to buy stuff but also just to chat, customers would even come in for a good old natter and then leave not being able to remember what they wanted to buy!

No economic growth - grow happiness instead!

The big news today is that economic growth is down to 0%. This is obviously a tragedy, but will it make us less happy... What we really need is an index of national happiness - a measurement of how much happier we are this year than last year. Economics is important, but we are now in a position where there is enough stuff to go round - what we need to do is to manage our affairs in a way that makes us all happier, that would be real success.

This celebrity culture is killing me!

I'm currently reading a great book called "The Science of Happiness" by Stefan Klein PhD and he links life expectancy levels with income distribution. In a country with greater levels of disparity between rich and poor life expectancy is lower. This can even be seen in individual states in the US, where no other factors seem pertinent, income disparity seems to effect life expectancy - negatively, the bigger the gap between rich and poor, the shorter they are all expected to live.

Knife Crime and Happiness

Anther teenager died from stab wounds today bringing the total of young people killed by violent crime in London this year to 19, as usual the media is asking why - and what can be done to stop it. A lot of emphasis is placed on knives, amnesties, heavier punishments and cracking down on people carrying knives but I think there is a better way - make these kids happier!

Denmark 'world's happiest nation'

News item on the BBC:


"Our research indicates prosperity is linked with happiness. It does contribute," he says, "but it is not the most important factor.

"Personal freedom is even more important, and it's freedom in all kinds of ways. Political freedom, like with democracy and freedom of choice."

looks like the data needs a bit of analysis!

Territory, Tribe, Status

Humans have a fundamental need for a few things beyond food and shelter - tribe, territory and status. Human behaviour evolved from our ancestors the great apes - or monkeys as most people call them. Our monkey brains are still there underneath all our modern civilized veneer and they still have the same needs for tribe territory and status.

What makes you happier, beer or kittens?

When I was a younger man I used to drink a lot of beer, but then so did everybody I knew. Well, everybody in the pub at least. And I thought that drinking beer would make me happy. Gradually over the years though it seemed to make me less happy - until one day I realise it was actually making me miserable.

A happy world

We'd all like to live in a world where most of the people are happy most of the time. It would be a nice world, full of cheerful optimism and generous spirits. I know it sounds like a utopian dream but just try and imagine for a moment what the world would be like if all of the unhelpful negative people you met in your daily life were optimistic, friendly and helpful... Ah, I can almost hear the birds singing!

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