Richard: The UK Government wants to measure our happiness, or well-being, in order to shape future government policy. So for this week's podcastsinenglish.com we're going to talk about what makes people happy or the criteria that happiness should be judged upon.
Jackie: Mmm, and how on earth can you measure someone's happiness?
Richard: So what do you think then, Jackie?
Jackie: Well, I think that if you asked a lot of people what would make them happier er… I think a lot of people would say if they had more money, if they won the lottery, everyone does the lottery because they think they’re going to be happier with more money, and if they lived in a warmer country. But um…
Richard: I definitely think that's true. That's why we live in Portugal because the climate is much better than the UK, so that increases our happiness. Or so we think.
Jackie: Or so you think. Because in fact there has already been um… quite a big er… detailed survey called “Satisfying life” um… which was done a couple of years ago about the European countries and what was quite interesting is when you look at the criteria that they used to er… measure people's um… happiness they didn't ask questions about people's um… economic environment or their… or where they lived at all there were completely other factors that they looked at.
Richard: So what were the main… the main criteria they used?
Jackie: Well, they looked at personal well-being, social well-being and well- being at work. Those three areas but within those areas there were things like um… self-esteem and optimism and competence and engagement and meaning and purpose to your life.
Richard: Wow. Quite um… high-level sort of questions I suppose.
Jackie: Yes. But it makes sense doesn't it? If you wake up Monday morning and you feel unhappy it's probably because you're going to spend the day not doing anything fulfilling.
Richard: So there's the personal well-being, as you said, about yourself, your self-esteem, and um… when you have a purpose in your life but obviously a major other thing is um… the social well-being which is being part of a family, um… a strong group of friends, [those sort of things.]
Jackie: Yes, having supportive relationships are very important as well.
Richard: OK. And the third thing was well-being at work.
Richard: Um… again, I suppose um… it's all about relationships, isn't it? So what about this survey then? Who did they find out… who were the happiest? I mean it was only in Europe, wasn't it?
Jackie: Hmm, well you see that's the other thing that's interesting because you mentioned about the… the… we mentioned about the climate, is that the top seven countries were all the Scandinavian countries Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland and Denmark was considered to be the country which had the happiest people. Um… but the other interesting thing of course with those kinds of countries is that there is less difference between the rich and the poor.
Richard: Ahh ok. Interesting, interesting. You mention that the Scandinavian countries did much better in the survey, but so I wonder whether they did it in the summer though because um… in general obviously I think there will be an overall feeling of well-being in the Nordic countries in the summer when it's the nice weather as opposed to the depths of winter.
Jackie: Hmm, that's interesting but you see again, Richard, you're… you’re thinking about… we talked about money and you're talking about weather, these are both external factors whereas the people who make the survey they seemed to think that happiness is measured more by looking at the internal factors.
Richard: Right, ok I can understand that but you are affected by external things, I think.
Jackie: But if you don't like your job, if you’re unhappy in your job, then you're going to feel only a little bit better maybe if the sun is shining than if it's raining.
Richard: Mmm. So, what do you the listeners think? What are the criteria to measure our happiness? We'd love to hear from you.