In 2002, Nobel award winning psychologist, Danny Kahneman, wrote an article regarding a study into happiness. Published in 2004, A survey method for characterizing daily life experience: the day construction method, looked at in which daily activities people found the greatest source of happiness. Socialising came out well in front. And top of the socialising tree was, what Mirinda calls, micro-relationships.
These small interchanges are usually between strangers. A good morning as you walk through the park, a playful bit of fun with the person at the check-out in the supermarket, chatting with serving staff and asking if they’re Turkish or not.
This has come as a revelation to me. I always figured I was just happy because that’s the kind of person I am but, no, it’s because I’m happy to talk to anyone. About anything. Being quick with a quip helps as well.
For instance, this afternoon we went up to Squires in Frensham because Mirinda wanted some firewood. Naturally, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit the food hall.
After buying cheese, gin and chocolate I then went to get the firewood.
As I paid the rather curt, be-masked lady at the till, I said “That should make things nice and cosy.” She smiled (I assume) and said “You can’t beat a fire.” To which, quick as a flash, I said “Well, you can, but you’ll put it out.“
There was the slightest of pauses as my words reached her, then she burst into laughter. It was gratifying for both of us. She made me happy by laughing, and I made her happy by being funny.
When I returned to the car, I told Mirinda about the exchange and she, in turn, also burst out laughing. That’s me; a great spreader of happiness. I have no problem with that.
It’s the little things. Like making Nicktor happy.
We were on the M25 returning from Chesterfield (I think it was the M25; motorways all look the same to me) when he spotted a number plate which he asked me to photograph for him. I did, and he then went into an extraordinary amount of detail about a Star Wars character he thought the licence plate was about.
If it is a Star Wars character, my thought was that the empty trailer must have held his small spaceship. And he’s lost it.
Also, a big thank you to Caroline Criado Perez for the heads up regarding the happiness report(s). If anyone is interested, you can read her always entertaining newsletter, here. You could also buy and read her brilliant book about the gender data gap, Invisible Women.