The correct spelling (or, at least a correct spelling) is eudaemonics – but I thought I’d help you out with the pronunciation. Eudaemonics (as I’m sure you all know) is the art or theory of happiness – a topic much in the news of late (though I may be the first to apply this particular word to it).
Our current government seems very keen to find out how happy (or otherwise) we are (I was slightly surprised that the recent census raised no questions in this sphere) though it is not entirely clear to me what they will do with this information once they have obtained it (perhaps they follow Robert Louis Stevenson, and think that “Little do ye know your own blessedness; for to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour.”) It would seem that despite huge increases in wealth, health (and safety) over my lifetime, we the ungrateful electorate are no happier – and may even be less happy (though the definition of “happiness” does seem to involve an awful lot of hand-waving to me as a lapsed pure mathematician).
I like to think that I am a fairly cheery chap most of the time, except when lack of food or sleep impinges on my otherwise sunny disposish, but recent research from the proudly government-free Belgium suggests I may be the victim of self-delusion (which I guess also makes me the perpetrator). Apparently, happiness in humans follows a U-shape curve over time (and at last the true reason for the title emerges, slightly shame-faced, from the thick undergrowth of this post) with maxima in one’s twenties, seventies and eighties. The very nadir of human happiness, this research and others suggest, occurs at 45 – the very age at which I find myself (not that I was looking all that hard – I don’t really hold with all this “new age” nonsense of finding oneself, I generally find that if I look down, there I am).
Trying to be positive – which clearly can’t be easy for a chap of my vintage – every day from here on in I should become happier (though I’m not sure how the rest of the world will cope with me if I live to any advanced age – I shall be quite insufferable). However, given that our rulers seem to take it as an affront that we (the ruled) are not happy – despite their sterling attempts to reduce our wealth and health which are so clearly correlated with declining happiness (and I rather fear they may have failed to understand the difference between correlation and causation) – I am slightly worried about a Logan’s Run style purge of the middle-aged who are selfishly dragging down our national happiness. I fear we forty-somethings are very much viewed as belonging to the B-arc of society.
I think I shall either have to start lying about my age – do I go higher (well-preserved) or lower (long paper-round)? – or I will have to become relentlessly cheerful whenever in public. Luckily, cheerful is not too hard to manage at this time of year: Spring is well and truly sprung, I can (and indeed do) gorge on rhubarb and asparagus, my journeys by bike supply balmy weather, the sight of buds a-bursting and the mellifluous sounds of our feathered friends a-singing, my local butcher has started stocking Blacksticks Blue and the new series of Doctor Who returns to our screens on Saturday.
Let joy be unconfined! (The poor lass must be due for parole by now).