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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 May 2006, 13:04 GMT 14:04 UK
Have your say
Most governments strive for greater economic growth, but in the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan the government's priority is happiness.

Plastic bags
Bhutan banned plastic bags to help the environment

Plastic bags, TV channels such as wrestling and MTV, and even advertising have been banned in Bhutan in an attempt to boost happiness.

But what could be done to make Britain happier? Your comments follow a selection of views heard on the programme.

Ban advertising
Should we ban advertising to children below the age of 10 or 12? Some people are suggesting all advertising should be restricted to conveying information.

More tax
It is argued that because inequalities in wealth can make you unhappy, taxes should be increased. Should governments be unapologetic about raising taxes to make people happy?

Commute less
Research suggests that commuting is the unhappiest part of most people's day. Commuting dramatically reduces time we have to spend with family and friends. Should the government discourage us from commuting long distances?

Work less
Social scientists say we should worry less about what other people have and learn to slow down and take more leisure together. One expert even suggests abolishing Wednesdays.

Encourage marriage
The science suggests marriage adds an average seven years to the life of a man and something like four for a woman. So should Government promote marriage through tax incentives?

Happiness is probably a choice - save genetic predisposition to depression. We need to limit our exposure to negative news from around the world, and even within our own "village". I truly believe that constant negative reinforcement is a way to keep the masses depressed and down. We're not productive when we're down. Hence, more jobs and better lives for those who are smart enough to get it.
Joanne Tulini, USA

People are being brainwashed into thinking they can achieve wealth far beyond their means, and all the time, the third world pays the price
Anthony Lane, UK
Happiness is directly proportional to the control that we feel we have over our lives. The government over recent years has alienated the UK people from policy decisions and people therefore feel less in control and so less happy. The government needs to get back in touch with the people of the UK and take actions based on voter feedback. This action needs to reflect voter feedback but also needs to be actioned quickly and be very well communicated in order for people to feel that they have an element of control over the society we live in.

While BBC and other news services persist in providing a diet of fear, uncertainty and doubt in their news broadcasts, depicting crime in the communities of the nation, governmental incompetence and topics such as global warming, etc. Is it any wonder that folk feel miserable?
Patrick French, UK

Doesn't much of the perceived unhappiness in society stem from the media? It seems to me that the British media see it as their mission to prematurely bring to an end careers in politics, sport and business. Wouldn't it be a refreshing change to see, hear and read only supportive media comment for public figures? Many of the comments on what would make people happy, for instance, have been wishing ill on politicians. This is hardly a recipe for true happiness, but fashionable!
Bromaire, Ireland

In order to achieve happiness I think the most important factor is to abandon the pursuit of material wealth, and the free market capitalist economy. People are being brainwashed into thinking they can achieve wealth far beyond their means, and all the time, the third world pays the price. It makes me want to cry. One of the things that makes me happiest is walking - preferably somewhere where there are trees. I do understand that it would be a huge adjustment to make if we abandoned consumer culture, but it would be so worth it. I feel like moving to Bhutan!
Anthony Lane, UK

More bank holidays! Everyone is a lot more refreshed after a long weekend. Give us at least one a month.
Joe Delaney, UK

Four words - National Puddle Splashing Day
Emma, Antrim

Stop building single-occupancy homes and build front doors round a courtyard so that there are other people about
Jo Scott, UK
I think we would all be a lot happier if we weren't plagued everywhere we look about being the perfect person, you know with top of the range car, figure like a model, loads of money. Advertising I guess, plus all these lotteries that promise you millions, the dream house ... we need to be happy with how we look and who we are.
Evelyn Johnson, England

I think all forms of media should have a point system whereby there is an excess of good stories against the bad. And those that break this rule should be fined and the money put to good causes. Advertising should also have a point system. We need a balance of "materialistic" related ads to those which are charity or public information related. The media needs to start creating a balanced output. It would in the long term be of benefit to all.
Ellie, England

I live my life mostly as I want. I have a very low income and have had for years. Many of my much wealthier friends envy me. I nearly said richer, but I'm rich in lots of other ways. I just decided to get out of a job I hated and get by. People tell me I'm kind and generous. I have fantastic friends. I live alone and have just stopped being a full time carer for my lovely Mum who has Alzheimer's and has gone into a home. She is happy too. The staff in the home love her. I'm not often alone. I am confident that I can call on my friends if I need help and it will be there. That's what makes for happiness. Ok, I would like to live in a group, but I just haven't found the right one yet. That would be the best thing we could do, stop building single-occupancy homes and build front doors round a courtyard so that there are other people about. Make an effort to get to know your neighbours. Smile in the street. Think about three good things that have happened to you today just before you go to sleep. Have a smile on your face and you will have sweet dreams.
Jo Scott, UK

Enhance job security!
Steve Foley, England
I think they should restrict the media by showing fewer images of the "ideal" and "perfect" in models and such like. It puts a lot of pressure on both young and old people to look good. This makes them feel inadequate and they become very uncomfortable with themselves which is sad because some people are great as they are and don't need to be so called "perfect" to lead fulfilled and happy lives.
Christina, England

Everyone should be aware that consumerism is the organised creation of dissatisfaction. Consider washing clothes - what a chore - or has it been made so? I remember a group of women animatedly chatting together doing their washing with wash boards in a trough in Italy 25 years ago. Are they happier now they've spent their time and money on washing machines? Technological advance needs to go hand in hand with the wisdom to know how to use it, or even whether to use it at all. Many of us seem to feel compelled to use something just because it's new. I don't need much new technology to walk to a local pub/cafe with some friends.
Craig Nicol, UK

Enhance job security! That would make many ordinary people a lot happier. In the UK we have the weakest Employment Protection Laws in the EU and the poorest redundancy and unemployment benefits. The French recently took to the streets and defeated an attempt to weaken their workers' rights. If the government were to totally sign up for the Social Chapter's Employment Protection Clauses and incorporate them into UK employment laws they would make a lot of workers very happy indeed!
Steve Foley, England

The government needs to look more into diet and exercise if it wants a happier (and more productive) nation. Less processed/fatty foods (fat Tax? cheaper healthier options), less pollution (tax gas guzzlers MUCH higher), more activities (that you enjoy ie not the gym, subsidised more by the government). These will release "feel good" chemicals in the brain ie serotonin, which is halfway towards fixing the problem.
Unhealthy dude, UK

I've never seen a "have your say" where views are so unanimous. There's a message here to government: heavily restrict advertising, spend much more on keeping places tidy, higher taxes on the super-rich, bring people closer to their workplaces. Do these things, make people happy and be loved (this could be your legacy TB!).
Ewan, UK

Is there any way we can encourage the media to be more positive, instead of spending so much time whingeing? That would help.
Bruce Lloyd, UK

There should be a radical, flat-rate progressive tax system in this country, where the rich are taxed the heaviest. On paper this formula would resemble an upside-down pyramid, with the poorest at the bottom point exempt from tax. This theory should also be copied to other forms of indirect taxation like student tuition fees and the council tax. The rich should be excluded from child benefit payments and a sort of fair means testing where such financial help is given only to genuinely poorer people.
Paul Bentley, United Kingdom

I believe more happiness would be created by making the streets we live on cleaner and safer, with more police on the streets, and regeneration money used to improve homes not businesses. Close the wealth gap. Make housing associations upgrade insulation of houses to save energy. Improve pensions and public transport. Make it possible for everyone to afford a holiday now and then. My last holiday was a long weekend 23 years ago!
Ginny, England

Wouldn't it be easier to set a floor for happiness? Get people's BASIC needs met, so they don't suffer: food, shelter, health, etc. Then simply put something in the water that will let them ignore the fact that others have more stuff, power, or freedom. Almost everyone will be HAPPY! Why make people struggle when the government can give them happiness?
Michael Russell, USA

Provide children with regular contact with others less fortunate than themselves.
Helen, Wales
I believe Britain would be happier if it regained a strong and positive sense of identity. Britain seems to have disappeared into a glum and bitter nation with no purpose and no goal, we have no large industries unique to us and so the communities have dispersed and traditional industries are gradually slipping away. We need to regroup as a nation, embracing new cultures that share and teach us new things and begin to create positive industry, learning from mistakes in the past. Get people busy with something important to do and they will gain self worth. For instance we could pioneer an industry in environmental development; turn our little island into one green sustainable nation, something to make us unique and of real use to the world, again.
Hannah, Kent

We need to really value and nurture our children both at home and in school if we want them to maintain happy lives into the future. The government should be aiming to reduce the negative influences on them like the excess of advertising, exam pressures early in life and the magazines which pressurise them into being adults before they are ready. We should be encouraging them to enjoy the simple pleasures of life such as spending time in the countryside, partaking in sports and games, rather than watching TV and playing computer games. Encouraging their creativity whether it's through art, cooking, music, growing plants or whatever helps their self esteem which must increase happiness. Provide children with regular contact with others less fortunate than themselves (at home or overseas) and facilitate some means by which they can help them in some way. This must surely help many children to feel empowered to make positive steps in their lives and to grow up into happy individuals whose influence will be felt by those around them.
Helen, Wales

I think we need a countrywide / worldwide agreed education policy (not just in schools, but in workplaces - everywhere possible) to promote better communication and understanding between people. We need to learn how to be assertive, not aggressive or passive / suppressing anger. We need to learn how not to accept long-term unhappiness and to stop believing there's nothing we can do about it. Everyone who can, should demonstrate that we can all choose how happy we want to be, by learning to change how we look at the world, to accept what we have to and change what we can. In the words of the Serenity Prayer: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference." (The last part's the hardest.) Also, I am not religious, so I think "life", "hope" or "good" instead of the word "God". We need to start treating each other better, with more respect. If this started with children and young people they would grow up feeling accepted and part of society. I think children need to learn about the important issues in the world, and how to think, debate, and make real decisions.
Mandy Baldwin, UK

Can government policies add to happiness? In the right areas yes, where they encourage community spirit and quality of life above simple economic factors. An example that struck me was of a food market in London, that local government are basically forcing to close to make way for a shopping centre - will the local community be any happier based on this decision? What will be lost to the many needs to be given more weight against the economic gains of the few.
Jim, N. Ireland

We could set aside one day a week where the shops stay closed and families and friends visit each other. Families could go to the parks, walk on the beach, play sports together, bond together. Oh! I forgot we used to have that it was called Sunday, that was before the politicians sold it to big business.
T.W.Smith, UK

I'd certainly vote for the party that aimed to increase happiness. I've just read Richard Layard's book "Happiness" and I find I agree with all he has said. Easy first step is to ban ALL advertising aimed at children. It's not all about personal gain - if I lived in a country with more trust and respect I would be much happier. I hope the whole happiness debate brings about some real changes.
Amanda Blackwell, UK

It's interesting how heavily featured the commercial market is featured in people's opinions of how to make a happier Britain. This coupled with sensationalist news reporting is one of the few marked differences between happiness now and in the fifties. Perhaps what we need to do is get rid of news aimed at capturing the highest audience and all advertising. Simple!
Jacqueline, Scotland

Smile more ;) I read somewhere, that in Thailand, women perfect their smile by looking at their face in a mirror. Thinking this to be superficial, the author asked why they did this. The reply was that the more they smiled on the outside the deeper was the inward effect of the smile on themselves. Also, in a book by the Dalai Lama, he says that we should all try and smile more, especially in situations like passing a complete stranger in the street. I've started doing this with a mixed reaction (I live in the London area). Older people and young children tend to reciprocate, whereas others seemed embarrassed or look at the floor. I've found that it does make me feel happier!
Peter, UK

Less consumerism, less waste. I haven't found a down side yet
E Thomas, UK
Mel, UK, hits the nail on the head. Positive psychology, CBT, or the ancient philosophy of stoicism to which they are closely related, should be taught in schools. All the suggestions about are modifying external circumstances to increase happiness are profoundly wrong-headed. Happiness is ultimately determined by our attitude, not our circumstances.
David, UK

I am a British ex-pat in a country that has immense wealth ... but going around people still look fairly miserable so, no, money does not make someone happy. As for the UK, I would say to the media - stop emphasising negative stories. Intersperse them with positive uplifting stories. Sometimes you can pick up a newspaper and, if you were so inclined, want to slit your wrists because of the content. Print things that will make people feel buoyant, uplifted ... stories of success in the face of adversity, stories to give hope.
Rob, UAE

If we clean the place up and make the country appealing and attractive we will be proud to live in a clean place, increasing happiness. Also if we felt safer that would help too.
Ben, UK

Introduce Gross National Happiness to UK politics at all levels, parish council up to national government, i.e. as the overriding policy for all departments.
Paul Booth, UK

I have long believed that more people should work part-time. Spread the work and the money. Balance between work and home is better, child care is cheaper and easier, if both parents worked a three or four day week. People would be able to work in their chosen career for longer, so the pension problem is eased. Life would slow down a little, lower income would mean people would search for happiness in things that didn't cost so much. Less consumerism, less waste. I haven't found a down side yet.
E. Thomas, UK

My wife (46) passed away in January after surviving breast cancer for over two years. During her final three months, mostly spent in bed, she was generally very happy and very content with her life and also with her life during the final few weeks. This was mainly due to her friends, family and myself ensuring she could fulfil each day with the smallest of pleasures, and she became spiritually at ease within herself. It is therefore interesting that in the survey, health is not number one but relationships and contentment. Reading most of the comments here, I really feel that the present government has let the British public down by not focussing on social responsibilities and being preoccupied with the health service throughout their term. It's a real pity we have lost all these years squandering vast amounts of money on a system that might never work, when improving people's happiness and self-belief is far more important.
Peter Farrer, Germany

Have a major re-think about the present news programmes. They only report bad news and try to give us a "scare for today" to worry about. The things they report can often hardly be called "news" at all, more like another episode of a soap. They ignore important and interesting world events in favour of relatively trivial domestic events. They talk down to people instead of attempting to raise spirits through a wide awareness of the good things that are happening in the world. I see news programmes as a contributor to unhappiness in UK.
Roger Roberts, UK

To promote and ensure fairness in all things in society. When people witness vast gaps in wages, wealth, health and opportunity then this breeds discontent. With the explosion of television media coverage, people can now see first hand for themselves the clear divide between the haves and have-nots.
Isobel Moffat, Scotland

I work in advertising and I hate it. We are all being sold stuff that companies say will make you happy. It won't. What will, is right inside your own head. Think happy and let go of your ego. We can all change the way we think, if we want. Be positive and life will be positive back. Go on, try it!
Louise Stephenson, England

Making being a "mum" acceptable again would be a good start. Stop telling children it's dangerous out there, and everyone else that all teenagers are bad and hooligans. This country currently appears to be run by the media, who tell us what we should want, what we should have, how terrible everything is and it's all somebody else's fault. If we were happier in the 1950s perhaps we should make some wider comparisons, like the power of the media.
Julie, England

From our years of supporting residents, we have found that meeting your neighbours at a street party makes you happier.
Chris Gittins, UK

Political agendas, social, educational and cultural imbalances are all contributory factors in making Britain unhappy. It's a revelation they are being discussed here at all. Will anything get done about any of the comments being made? No. Why? Because the whole nation is stuck in a rut. And this rut seems to be not a very happy place. Let's face it, politics and governments go hand in hand in making this country what it is, but until one steedy minister is brave enough to go against the grain and act out some of their embellished promises, I'm afraid the rut of discontent is here to stay.
Charles, UK

Children should be taught about manners and respect and that if they want respect from adults they must respect them
Sheila Farrall, England

Making sure everyone, whoever they are, has enough healthy food to eat and somewhere decent to live. Governments should make it their business not to allow some people to earn more and more with seemingly no end to it, while others are working just as hard for a pittance. People should be taught about qualities such as generosity and compassion. People shouldn't have to work all hours just to make ends meet or climb the promotion ladder. It should be possible for mothers to stay at home and bring up their own children if they wish without losing their right to a decent standard of living. If people are allowed to work hard and are paid with decent wages/salaries they will be more inclined to want to give back to society. Celebrities should be encouraged to be more responsible and charitable and not be seen wasting money as that causes discontent amongst people who have little. As well as rights people should be taught responsibilities. Children should be taught about manners and respect and that if they want respect from adults they must respect them. Children and young people should be encouraged and learn how to amuse themselves when there is seemingly nothing to do.
Sheila Farrall, England

How does the government know what makes me happy? It will certainly be different from someone else. While happiness is important, being forced to have fun can be the least fun thing. For example, in school when we had to do exercise/PE every week I hated it. As soon as I left school and did it on a voluntary basis I started to enjoy it. An increase in spirituality is all very well but religion is really not my idea of happiness. In summary, promoting happiness is good, but measures to make people happy may backfire.
Nadine, UK

According to recent research, the "undervalued component of happiness" is contentment. The purpose of advertising is to make people discontented with what they have (so that they will buy whatever the advertiser is pushing). Therefore, banning all advertising is an obvious step: if your priority is happiness in the population!
Martin Ward, UK

I think schools/councils should offer classes in positive psychology so that people can learn how to train their minds to see in a beneficial way. If we all started to see beyond the commercial smog that smothers the Western world, then we could start to discover what truly matters and work towards better lives together.
Mel, UK

There is a lack of social cohesion today in comparison to 30 years ago. Even in the 1990s there was more social cohesion. This is not just in cities but in towns and even in villages. In my village some people don't even know their neighbours properly. Therefore, the slightest thing can cause arguments like loud music, rowdy behaviour, whereas if people knew each other then it would be resolved more peacefully. People are afraid now because of what they hear on TV or the radio about people getting attacked when this is exaggerated in reality. There should be more attempts at maintaining social cohesion as there will be a lot more happiness in society.
Charles Cornwallis, England

Fewer thin and unrepresentively attractive people on television, we are rearing a generation that hates themselves for not being good looking, and another load of people who expect everything on a plate because they measure up. Did you see that flying pig?

I would like to see the scruffy parts of our country tidied up. Why does there have to be sad, grey, run down places covered in rubbish? Pay people to tidy up. It would look happier and give people a paid job (No volunteers - that's cheap)
Lucy Smith, UK

In order to be happy, we would do well to remember just how much we really have
Dave, UK
Our government should: take more care of our surroundings and make places pleasant to be in whether that is home, work or public places such as transport, hospitals, council offices, schools, parks - dingy, depressing, ugly, dirty, messy places don't make people smile or feel calm. Stop building rabbit hutch housing with paper thin walls, don't make people squash together on public transport and don't encourage them to drive to a faceless superstore to buy vast quantities of cheap food.
Bollard, UK

We are living in a fearful society: fear of crime, fear of terrorism, fear of foreigners, fear of fear itself. I am appalled how this government and most of the media continually relay a diet of new things we should be scared of and add to the climate of fear. Let's face it, we had no real need to be fearful of Islamic terrorists in Britain until our own government started bombing innocent people in Iraq. Our own government is adding fear into our lives and in living with fear we can never be happy.
Dave Taylor, England

More parks with lots of trees. They need to be looked after though.

As a society we have lost sight of how lucky we are. Compared to much of the world now, and pretty much all of it in the past, we enjoy (or should enjoy!) more safety, comfort, security and lifestyle choice. In order to be happy, we would do well to remember just how much we really have.
Dave, UK

People in this country should not preoccupy themselves with the weather. There is more to life than complaining about the weather. My experience in this country for the past 20 years tell me that people here convince themselves that they are unhappy because of the bad weather. They are also unhappy if the weather is good and they are indoors working. Why not look on the positive aspects of being British? People in this country should look back to the war era and take a lesson from the people during that time.
Jaime Lim, Scotland

The New Economics Foundation has produced a fantastic "Well-Being Manifesto for a Flourishing Society" which should be essential reading for all - particularly the Government! One of the best ways to improve life satisfaction is to give your time to helping others and spending time on improving your friendships and relationships. Research shows that happy people live up to seven years longer than unhappy people and that happy people have good social networks and are "engaged" in their local communities.
Liz Norris, UK

Research shows that too much choice makes people depressed. Instead of all the phoney "choice" we are given in public services, provide quality public services on a local level. Schools should not be competing against one another, instead children should go to their local school, building community with other local children, rather than commuting miles to "better" schools.
Alex Freeman, UK

Materialism and consumerism promote unhappiness as they teach us never to be content. To be happier as a culture we need a political system founded on different priorities. I've read that a tradition in the scientific community is that kudos and self-respect are based upon what you GIVE to the community and not what you take from it; ie results of research are freely shared with the world via published papers, not bought and sold. Perhaps we need an independent organisation to figure out how such a system might operate throughout our whole society.
Dennis Sisterson, UK

I think we should follow the Bhutanese example and ban tobacco. One of the biggest factors in my life which makes me miserable is the fact that people are allowed to generate toxic and foul-smelling fumes around me. If that was stopped, I would be a lot happier.
Chris Melville, UK

Scrap junk mail, get buses to run on time, not having to work all hours for low pay to make millions of profit for rich shareholders and stop hiring cheap labour in Third World countries at the expense of manufacturing jobs here. And make London more affordable for people who were actually born there.
Emma , UK

I think we should be given tax relief on money we spend down the pub.
Terry, Essex

Stop caring about people richer than you and start giving to people poorer than you
Shalim, UK
Nowadays, British culture seems to revolve around that horrid box in your living room - the TV. This clearly has a bad impact. It is seen as a toddler/child pacifier for busy parents, and forms the central point of almost every single living room. I say dump the things. The continentals don't watch half the TV we do, and look how happy they are!
Aidan, England

Severe restrictions - if not an outright ban - on television should definitely be the first and most important step. Families sit totally gormlessly in front of the television failing to make any communication and fail to have any sort of decent relationship. Rather than going out to parties, making friends, or having people over for dinner, people just sit and gawp at a little black box in the corner of the room. Children watch soaps and dramas, where some amazing, life-changing event happens at the turning of every corner, and they grow up thinking that that's how life should be.
Doyle Palmer, UK

If you want to be happier, stop comparing your own life to other people's lives. On the one hand, we look at the better-off and we feel bad for having less than them. At the same time we look at the worse-off and feel guilty about having more than them. The answer? Stop caring about people richer than you and start giving to people poorer than you.
Shalim, UK

One of the contributors says "it will take a major paradigm shift before most people living in the UK (esp. London) would actually go out and vote for such measures". Why assume this is the case? I can't help noticing that no one on this forum seems to be against the ideas being suggested.
Teresa Fowler, UK

I love the idea of banning plastic bags and reducing advertising and huge 4x4s in towns and cities. Bad manners and no regard for others' feelings are also things that get me down and the constant pressures to conform to buy this, wear this, drive this, eat this and go on this sort of holiday are eating away at us and our society. These days it takes a lot of guts to lead a different sort of life, but deep down I believe its what people really want.

The press need to start the happiness revolution since they are the most effective means of reaching the people
Jonathan Beales, Australia

The education system is to blame for so much of society's problems because it is indirectly producing consumers rather than educating. Schools breed negativity and do not prepare young people for the real world. We need to think radically about changing our whole approach to raising the youth of this country, beginning with a flexible more parent-involved approach to education. One where people are encouraged to develop their skills and their passions and to take responsibility for their learning, their life and their actions.
Sue, UK

I believe banning people from reading or listening to iPods while commuting will give people time to talk to each other and share a laugh. I have always experienced that I feel happier while commuting when I am chatting rather than reading or iPoding.
Ali Mustafa Khan, UK

The UK tends to be negative and complain a lot - down here we are called whinging poms - and with good reason I think. The press need to start the happiness revolution since they are the most effective means of reaching the people.
Jonathan Beales, Australia

I believe that materialism and commercialism serves to make many people unhappy. The days of close family and community spirit seem to be fast vanishing. Perhaps, as has been mentioned, we should concentrate more on caring and sharing instead of need and greed. We live in what is sometimes a very selfish world. Perhaps a little more consideration for one another, or maybe educating all social groups and encouraging communication and personal development and spiritual enlightenment. Perhaps the government should consider supporting organisations like schools, hospitals, community centres etc instead of reducing funding, naming and shaming and phasing out. Perhaps this would enable kids to be more productive, promote better care of one another, dissuade from the use violence and crime to prosper, promote understanding and encourage the return of values that on occasions seem far in the past.
Helen, UK

Young people need to learn to respect themselves more, and not spend their free time trying to escape real life through drinking and/or drugs. Self respect is instilled in people by their parents, and only when you have it, can you show respect and consideration for others. Considerate people make happy people! We need to concentrate on parenting. Children need such basic things: love, safety, education and fun to make them truly happy and able to value the important things in life as they grow up. We must also allow children to maintain their innocence. Stop selling them alcohol, violent computer games and making it 'ok' to have sex under age. It's not ok and impacts on the rest of their lives.
Suzanne, UK

Learn from Continental Europe! A higher quality of life than Britain for many decades now. More holiday, better public services and less idiotic materialism.
Tah, Germany

Why don't we make Fridays national family day when people can finish work early and have discounts to music, sports and kids events all over the country. Build beautiful parks and gardens were the young and old can take walks on sunny days.
Emma Crawford, New York

If it is the role of government to serve the common interest and represent us, then happiness and what promotes it should definitely be on the political agenda.
Matthew Cattell, UK
Lessen the media eg no 24 hour TV or radio. BAN ADVERTISING on TV and radio. In magazines and newspapers it's ok. Ban plastic bags and most packaging and junk mail. Make farmers go organic, ban agro business eg factory farming of any kind. Restore the countryside to the state it was before the agro businessman got his hands on it. Encourage the local style of building so we don't end up with little boxes all the same!
Rosemary London, Norfolk

1, Fewer government initiatives. 2, Goodbye to political correctness. 3, An acknowledgement that Orwell's pig got it wrong when it said "All people are born equal but some are born more equal than others".
Colin Chamberlain, England

Happiness is obviously subjective - if it is the role of government to serve the common interest and represent us, then happiness and what promotes it should definitely be on the political agenda. Work life balance is important. It would be nice not to work at all but work is for many, a source of happiness. It is a difficult if not impossible balancing act for any government to keep all of the people happy all of the time. The government should aim to keep most of the people happy most of the time.
Matthew Cattell, UK

Our government needs to stop measuring quality of life in terms of how much material wealth and possessions we have as this is not a strong factor in happiness. Instead they could spend some taxes on community events on a local level to encourage people to meet and talk to other people in their communities. Street parties, celebrations of local events, small local parades etc with a social theme in mind and not an educational one. Not just for minorities either how about including the lonely old middle and upper classes for a change? Definitely with a bar included. It's not a crime to have fun!
Bianca Rowan, UK

If children do not have such materialistic expectations they will be much happier with what they do have, and this attitude will undoubtedly be carried into adulthood.
Amy, England

I think more community oriented programmes should be encouraged in Britain. I think the society suffers from intense atomization. There is tolerance to different cultures but there is no intermingling. It would be great to have certain national festivals, celebrations that involve the entire community regardless of their background.

Encouraging activism and spirituality, to my mind, would go a long way in preventing young people from giving into peer pressure and from endangering their health (mentally and physically) in many ways.
Parul, UK

I think the point made about children's advertising is a very important one. To have a culture of must-have possessions and immediacy leads to a very materialistic generation. Which is what, to some extent we are seeing today. If children do not have such materialistic expectations they will be much happier with what they do have, and this attitude will undoubtedly be carried into adulthood.
Amy, England

Thanks, only the BBC could cover such an important non commercial subject. I love the ideas above, but they are a little radical, and will put many people off the whole concept. All of them potentially effect our economy, and it will take a major paradigm shift before most people living in the UK (esp. London) would actually go out and vote for such measures. A shame, as they would be better for them.

To be effective there are other measures the government could do now, including measuring and publishing happiness at regular intervals, and making tests such as the VIA signature strength tests compulsory. As Professor Martin Seligman says, you can enjoy your work if you use your strengths. But you need to know what they are. And also, many people I talk to think it is how we compare against others around us materially. This has been proved by positive psychologists to be false. It is actually how we perceive that we are doing compared to those around us. All we need to do is change our views on material happiness. Bans on adverts, like those featuring skinny models always having a good time, would work. But first we need the will to stop them. This programme will help. Thanks again!
Andrew Norris, UK

I am a Bangladeshi - the happiest nation - and very happy myself! I think to make Britain happy we should promote more family activities. We should also make the public more aware of the benefits of happiness.
Tahrima Mridha, UK

A grave mistake is when people think that money brings happiness! We certainly have more money than 30 years ago but the question is: are we happier than 30 years ago? The answer is NO! Our expectations are increasing as well with the help of advertisers! According to Richard Ryan (University of Rochester psychology professor) "focus on money can be a formula for depression and anxiety."

As countries as a whole become richer we don't see any increase in the happiness of individuals. This is because as individuals we only care about how we rank against peers. We prefer a small individual pay rise rather than a high pay rise for everyone in the society! In defining happiness we should also take into account non-economic terms such as: family, communication and social life, freedom in all aspects of an individual's life, health, spiritual explanations and reaching individual goals.
Yasaman Amini, Sydney, Australia



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