What we have always known - money doesn't make us happy

When terrible events come to an end a feelgood factor flows through us as we anticipate the better days ahead.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 3rd September 2016, 7:00 am
Money is not the key to happiness
Money is not the key to happiness

Take our Troubles which blighted the country just after the Sixties ended.

When the daily bombings, kidnappings and killings came to a halt – well nearly – more than 30 years later we breathed a sigh of relief.

Our cities and towns slowly evolved into thriving places where we felt we could enjoy ourselves at last.

It’s difficult to know how we will view this period in the future because a recent study shows that freedom, more money and an improved lifestyle will not necessarily make us happy.

We soon forget that early euphoria when life takes a change for the better and become restless again.

In some respects we see this now with immigrants who having escaped from war zones and tyrannies start picking holes in the countries which have taken them in.

Admittedly migrant camps are not anyone’s idea of easy living but they have to be infinitely better than the chaos in the countries they felt obliged to flee from.

A report from Professor Thomas Hills, a psychologist and Dr Daniel and Eugenio Proto, both economists, presented to the European Economic Association in Geneva, suggests that money is not the secret of happiness but good health and long life could be.

They report that after the Second World War ended happiness lasted only until the early 1950s.

The euphoria of the Swinging Sixties didn’t last either reaching a low point in the late 1970s when the country was strike riven.

Mood improved again in the 1990s, this lasting into the early 2000s. It’s anyone’s guess how we will fare as the new millennium progresses.

So happiness and contentment appears to be a generational thing.

I can remember the euphoria of the Sixties when I was young, free and single. The Seventies were marred by sky-high mortgage rates, strikes at work and the struggle to provide for children.

Equality legislation improved the working life for women but technology and the internet were creeping up on us. Today, my generation find it difficult to communicate with a young generation who live lives attached to head sets, mobile phones, iPads and unfathomable, assorted gadgetry which leaves- them unable to hold a conversation with those of us less well versed in such things.

I sat in a dental surgery lately. Four teenagers were sitting together, their fingers working manically, not speaking a word to anyone. There was no point in me trying to engage them in conversation. Clearly I didn’t exist to them. And that makes me sad, wondering where these young people will find happiness and contentment in a cyber world where no-one talks to anyone except through a contraption clamped between their fingers.

How will family life be maintained in any traditional sense of the word when old and young are living such diverse lives?

My generation had such high hopes in the Sixties. Like other generations before us we wanted the best for the families we created yet we still find ourselves being left behind.

There are compensations, of course. I had the time this week to observe a mass of cloud holding up a setting sun which was doing its best to peep over the top of it. It seemed to be saying ‘look I’m still here, I never change’ as it pointed its impressive rays to the ground as though in an embrace of the things it holds dear, such as earth itself. I doubt if many young people would have noticed such a celestial beauty.