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If You Are Often Unhappy, Here Are Ten Things Research Shows You Could Find Helpful

By John Harvey Murray

Some time ago, there was a report by the London School of Economics on happiness. It said, among other things, that people who are married or in long term relationships tend to be happier and live longer than other people. This will surprise anyone who has listened to too many old-fashioned jokes about "the wife" and "the mother-in-law". Who is laughing now? The Report also mentions depression and stress as major reasons why many people are not happy. I have written about my contribution to stress on one of my blogs.
I am aware of a lot of other research in the last decade or so, which began in the University of Mexico, into what makes us happy, which made a change from all the studies in the Twentieth Century into neuroses, psychoses, manias etc. In other words, they used to study only people who were far from happy.

Here are the ten principal elements:

A. Accumulation of wealth does not make you happier. Poverty makes people unhappy, but beyond a certain level happiness does not increase with material wellbeing, although some say they would rather be miserable in comfort. The love of money is the root of evil.
B. Be yourself. Don't be a square peg in a round hole. Do not blame yourself for not being someone else. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us.

C. Count your blessings. Think about the plusses. It is easy to focus on the negative. Rejoice at all times.

D. Do good. Happiness grows as you give it away. Love thy neighbour.

E. Enjoy life. Consciously absorb the good things around you. God has given us all good things to enjoy.

F. Forgive people who hurt you. You do not have to condone their actions. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

G. Give thanks to people who help you. Write to a teacher, mentor or someone who helped you through a bad patch. It is good to give thanks.

H. Health - take reasonable care of it, without becoming obsessive (that leads to stress!). Avoid the worst pitfalls of smoking, unhealthy diet, excessive alcohol, or lack of exercise or sleep. Moderation in all things.

I. Invest in relationships - don't be a recluse. This is the one item on which experts disagree. Some say introverts are happier if they do not force themselves to socialise. Whatever you think about this, make a positive decision, do not let life determine it for you. Do not neglect to meet together.

JK. Just Know how to deal with catastrophes, whether through religion, philosophy or something more down to earth. Bad things happen to almost everyone at times. We all need something to hold on to, otherwise one event can destroy your whole life. God is a very present help in troubles.
Is there a link?

In addition to all these things, it was generally found that people regularly involved in a church, mosque or other religious organisation were happier than average. This could be because of the links between religion and all the above factors. The feeling that life is not random but controlled by Someone, may also help some people. It has been observed that many of these points are similar to advice found in the Bible. None of them are contrary to its teaching, anyway. Perhaps it is to do with following the Maker's instructions. However, they are just as valid, whatever your religion or other philosophy.

Does anyone keep to all ten guidelines?

You might not be able to implement all these suggestions, whether you are in a longterm relationship or not, but see how many you can. I hope it will increase your happiness.

JOHN HARVEY MURRAY. After studying Economics and Accountancy at Bristol University, John worked in accountancy and audit in several types of local authority prior to becoming Insurance Officer at St Helens Council where he achieved considerable savings in the cost of insurance and risk. He is currently self-employed as JHM Risk Management Services, offering risk management services to businesses and other organisations. His article on stress is at
He writes and speaks on various topics and has published a historical novel under a pseudonym. He has also written a modern detective novel and several works of non-fiction.
John is a member of the accountancy body CIPFA and is a Specialist Member of the Institute of Risk Managers.
Tel. 01925 445215