Not even halfway through reading a review of Paul Dolan’s new book and it was number one on my hit-list, courtesy of The Sunday Times Culture magazine. Whilst curled up with a cuppa I grew more and more engaged in the review (maybe partly because of the caffeine) but mostly because it was applauding Dolan’s logical, scientific and straightforward concept of happiness.
“He wants us to see clearly what actually makes us happy”, wrote reviewer Jenni Russell. For “everything we choose to do… is ultimately about maximising our individual happiness.” Ok so nothing new there. But, his novel definition is that happiness is the experience of both pleasure and purpose over time. It encompasses the range of things we do, from the purely pleasurable… to the purely purposeful. The individual differences in what we find joyful or fulfilling are what Dolan suggests we should concentrate on. Dolan says the evidence shows that people who experience better emotions “live longer, are in better health, recover from viruses more quickly, take more time off work, are more successful in their careers… and have happier marriages.” He suggests we keep a diary of our experiences, analysing our daily activities and scouring each for pleasure and purpose on a 10-point scale. The results will be a guide to how best to lead our lives. Well, suggestion accepted! It made a profoundly positive change to Jenni Russel, and I’m sure it will to many more, including me, too.
Click The Sunday Times Book Shop to buy.