Dean Burnett: So many claim to know the secret of happiness. But what if theres no such thing?
Are you happy?
I am. Sort of. While most of the UK will be distracted by local elections or frenzied analysis of what the colour of the seat covers in the upcoming Royal Wedding reveals about the Queen’s position on Brexit, today my second book The Happy Brain hits the shelves.
As well as mentions in the Guardian and Observer, I’ve spoken to many other media types about it. However, many seem to ask the same question; I wrote a book on the biological and neurological underpinnings of happiness, so from a scientific perspective, what is the secret or key to happiness? Or sometimes “what are my hints or tips for becoming happy?”
Secrets, hints, tips; whatever term used, it rests on the assumption that it’s easy to become happy, like happiness sits in the brain like money in a cash machine, ready to be dispensed by anyone with the right PIN number.
I can’t blame or criticise anyone for this; the idea that happiness is easy to achieve if you know the right “formula” is everywhere nowadays. Barely a week goes by without some new happiness claim making headlines. For example:
Forget cash – how sex and sleep are the key to happiness
People always say money can’t buy you happiness, but everyone likes sex and sleeping, right? This would explain why new parents often look so miserable, being regularly deprived of both.
Should we really forget cash though? I’ve forgotten my wallet a few times when going out, and it’s never made me happy at all.