With news yesterday that the government is going to ask people how happy they are in order to measure the nation’s wellbeing for the first time, this begs the question, what is happiness, and can it be measured? Can the state of happiness be pigeon-holed into the ‘objective’ measurements decided upon after 10 months of public consultation by the Office for National Statistics such as life expectancy, employment opportunities, health, relationships or wealth? Or is it deeper than that?

Mary Pearson, author of Meditation; the stress solution, firmly believes that happiness happens of its own accord as a result of paying focussed attention on our state of being at any given moment in time. “By placing focussed awareness on the process of breathing, the mind is quietened, and something amazing starts to happen”, says Mary, “whereby the way you look at the world changes, the way you think changes, the way you behave changes, and your habits change”.

Graham Price, author of What Is, Is, says that whatever it is that we are feeling at any given time is always ok, for that moment. “By accepting uncomfortable feelings, whilst it might not be pleasant to experience them, the effect on our unhappiness is immediately diminished if we can accept them as long as we have them. Accepting these feelings, exploring them, and seeking action, often leads to change, from which happiness can naturally emerge”.

In Buddhist philosophy the notion of happiness is described thus; “If you can forget your individual happiness, that’s the happiness defined in Buddhism. If the issue of your happiness ceases to be an issue, that’s the happiness defined in Buddhism”.

In other words, if we seek happiness on a personal level, as defined through our labels, cultural conditioning, possessions, wealth, health etc, then we are totally missing the point and looking in the wrong place. Some of the most happy people in the world are destitute, suffering from some kind of long term illness, or other challenging life situations.

So what is their secret?

As Louise Claire-Pardoe, author of The Serenity Code says, “As a result of my illness I became severely depressed and agoraphobic. From my darkest moments I saw the glimmer of choice, so I embarked on a journey deep into myself, and discovered a new way of living and being. Happiness for me comes from within, and is certainly not defined by how much money I have, my health or my job. My happiness is a result of an inner stillness, peace and calm, that is ethereal in quality and is immeasurable”.

Happiness cannot be defined by how much we earn, how much money there is in the bank, how many nice clothes we own, or how good our health is. If the government truly seeks to objectify 21st Century happiness via a nationwide survey, then it needs to understand that happiness in its truest state is not actually being measured, simply because it cannot be; and unfortunately the notion of happiness for millions of people, simply will not be understood, least of all obtained.

To discover the true happiness that lies within you, visit to pick up your copies of: Meditation; the stress solution by Mary Pearson; What Is, Is by Graham Price; and The Serenity Code by Louise Claire-Pardoe and Jason Paul Claire. Also available from Amazon and all good bookstores, priced £9.99 each.



Hi - I am Deborah, and was the founding director of talkhealth My blog is generally focused around my own personal story about weight loss, running, exercise and generally trying to get and stay fit, as well as what's been in the news that's topical. Any views expressed are my own.

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