There are enough reasons to be happy. But of course happiness doesn't always follow logic
Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton this week said quite dramatically on social media that he "has the feeling to give up everything."
He was down because & # 39; the world is such a mess & people don't care & # 39 ;.
Such a feeling will touch a chord with many of us. Life is sometimes a struggle, even before you worry about global poverty, climate change, Brexit, Trump, Syria etc.
But if a young, healthy, talented multi-millionaire sports idol such as Hamilton finds it difficult, then it is even harder for the rest of us.
That is why it is worth reminding ourselves that life has never been better. We live longer, we can cure or manage diseases that were murderers a generation ago, there is less poverty, we have more food and are better educated than ever before.
There are enough reasons to be happy. But of course happiness doesn't always follow logic.
This week we learned what makes us really happy, following the publication of a new study that looked at happiness by analyzing millions of documents, books and newspapers dating back to 1820.
The study found that peaks in happiness were sometimes fueled by increases in income, but in general a large increase was needed to have a noticeable effect. Instead, the main increase in happiness often coincided with other factors, such as increased levels of hope.
Slightly counter-intuitive, happiness was surprisingly high during the war years. Yes, people suffered incredible hardship, stress, and the absence or loss of loved ones, but they also felt a tremendous sense of companionship and fellowship.
A similar peak in happiness was noted in the 1950s despite the deprivation and grimness of the post-war period. The researchers reduced this to a sense of hope and collective optimism that we would have experienced the worst and now everything was possible.
By 1978 the happiness level of the country had plummeted. Large-scale industrial action during the Winter of Dissatisfaction contributed to feelings of disappointment and frustration that the ambitions of the 1950s had not been realized – despite the fact that the level of income was generally the highest they had ever been.
That does not mean that the economy does not affect our happiness levels. During periods of economic instability, we know that there are higher rates of alcoholism and suicide.
But the most important thing to appreciate is that our feelings of satisfaction are generally not rising to the same extent as our levels of prosperity. Numerous studies have shown that what we need for real happiness is really quite minimal: enough to eat and drink, somewhere to live, a purpose for life and family and / or friends.
On an individual level, we know that money and status correlate poorly with levels of happiness. They are not & # 39; things & # 39; that makes us happy.
Many years until she died, I visited an older nun who once taught me that. She had devoted her life for over 60 years to helping others.
She had no possessions, nothing at all. Instead, she lived in a community of sisters and shared everything. She was one of the happiest people I have ever known.
And during my time in palliative care, I have never heard anyone complain on their deathbed about their lack of wealth or possessions. But many wished they had spent more time with their loved ones – that is a valuable lesson in life that I have never forgotten.
Earlier this week the Mail had an interview with Alexandra Adams, a 25-year-old medical student who wanted to become the first blind and deaf doctor in the UK.
It was an awesome story. The medical school is tough enough, but for Alexandra to manage it with her disability – and to have overcome severe gastrointestinal problems – puts us in a grumpy position every day. Her grit also proves that not all people in their twenties are entitled to "snowflakes". After overcoming such a setback, I think she will be a great, empathetic physician. I wish her all the best in her career.
Alexandra Adams, a 25-year-old medical student, will be the first blind and deaf doctor in the UK
Dr. Max prescribes … Married with Alzheimer's: a less ordinary life with Tony Booth
Actor Tony Booth, father of Cherie Blair, died of Alzheimer's two years ago and this is a poignantly honest account of what it's like to care for someone with dementia. His widow Steph talks about the frustrations of getting a diagnosis and her fight for proper care and support, which resonates with the many readers who have written to me. The final chapter, things that I wish I knew, gives some of the best advice to healthcare providers I have ever read.
- Published by Rider Books, £ 12.99.
How the & # 39; food marshes & # 39; to empty
Unicef's damn research has shown how hundreds of takeaways turn deprived parts of the UK into "food marshes," where residents don't have easy access to fresh, healthy food.
This is supported by research that shows that children from poor areas are twice as likely to be obese. I saw this myself when I was working in a drug addiction clinic in a deprived neighborhood of London.
In an attempt to treat our patients holistically, we started a cooking course. A few weeks later one of them said that although he liked the idea of eating healthy, home-made food, he couldn't find any vegetables needed for the recipes in his local stores.
I didn't believe him, so researched the stores on the estate where he lived. I was shocked when I discovered that there were five takeaways, but not one store with vegetables.
Yes, fresh fruit and vegetables are cheaper than fast food, but only if you can easily buy them
Yes, fresh fruit and vegetables are cheaper than fast food, but only if you can easily buy them. There is a simple solution: municipalities must limit the number of takeaways in an area and offer subsidized rates to grocers or stores that sell fruit and vegetables.
Do not be afraid of these vital NHS tests
The uptake of NHS screening, especially for breast, cervical and colon cancer, is always low in the UK.
Making screening more accessible – for example during lunch or during the weekend – has been proposed as a way to increase the number of visitors.
I welcome such initiatives, but I wonder why people in Britain have become so complacent about their health that they don't bother attending an appointment that could save their lives.
Why doesn't the population benefit from free tests to diagnose cancer at an early stage?
Several reasons have been put forward: women are ashamed of not being like their Instagram idols or are afraid of seeing a male doctor; people are afraid of the inconvenience or fear of bad news.
These are pathetic apologies. Although drugs are the victims of their own success – too many people believe that a drug or surgery will cure them – it's time for people to take responsibility for their health.
If you are invited for screening, book an appointment. You will not regret it and it can be life saving.
Massage and exercise can be more effective than antipsychotic medication in treating agitation and aggression in dementia patients, according to a fascinating study in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
I love alternative solutions to the "chemical cosh" used to stun such patients. Over the years, I have often been asked to treat patients with & # 39; challenging & # 39; behavior in nursing homes. The overloaded staff usually wanted a drug solution for the problem. However, this type of medication increases the risk of confusion, strokes and falls.
Time and again I would discover that there was an underlying reason for the agitation – a dental abscess, constipation or bedsore. What they needed was pain relief and medical care.
A study by King & # 39; s College London a few years ago showed that even paracetamol was more effective in treating agitation and anxiety than antipsychotics. I put it to the test and was surprised. A lady reacted so well after taking acetaminophen that I stopped her anti-psychotic medication.
So a cheap painkiller became my first treatment line for agitation. I would also like to see massage and exercise prescribed in the same way.