Change your feelings by changing your thoughts by Melanie Stone

Happiness, Lessons from a New Science by Richard Layard. Part 4

Can we afford to be secure?

People dislike parting with almost anything (attachment!!). A loss hurts roughly twice as much as an equal gain helps. That is why people are so keen to avoid loss and so unwilling to incur the risk of loss.

It is precisely because people hate loss that we have a social safety net. The desire for security has been challenged by Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and George W. bush. They stressed security can be dangerous. But it is what most of us desperately want! So it should be a major goal for society.

The fallacy of competitiveness.

Many people think we can no longer afford so much security. Why? globalisation. Complete nonsense. A nation can always compete becasue people will get paid according to their productivity.
If we want to make people more secure, we may have to accept lower pay than otherwise. That is our choice.

People want security in all the first 5 of our Big Seven sources of happiness:

  1. income: greater economic stability and better old age pensions
  2. work: unemployment is one of the worst things that can happen to anyone
  3. family life:  it can do serious damage to children if they grow up with a single parent, or who have 2 parents who fall out. What can be done? Compulsory parenting classes in school, which would explain what a huge task and responsibility it is to rear a child. Children born to single mothers have a high risk of criminal behaviour. That is why laws to permit abortion have greatly reduced the level of crime. For the happiness of our children we need more family-friendly practices at work and high-quality child care, priced in relation to income. Flexible working practices are an essential investment in a happy society, as are entitlements to parental leave. The Scandinavian countries are a model for the rest of the world, and this may be one reason why they are among the happiest. If families run into trouble they should seek early help e.g. Australia’s Triple P (Positive Parenting Programme).
  4. community: a high-turnover community is rarely friendly.
  5. health of mind : a good health care system is a key feature of a good life. Mental disturbance causes the greatest dissatisfaction with overall health. Depression causes more misery than poverty. We spend too little on mental illness compared with other diseases. Our priorities need a radical change.


William Cowper

Happiness depends, as nature shows,

Less on exterior things than most suppose.


So how can we gain control over our inner life?