24 Jun Can we learn about happiness from a British economist?
Will this man make you happy?
The government’s ‘happiness tsar’, Richard Layard, thinks he knows why we’re all so miserable – we’re overpaid, over-materialistic and lonely. But, he tells Stuart Jeffries, he has a plan to banish the blues in Britain, once and for all
Tuesday June 24, 2008
‘Happiness is … ” begins Professor Richard Layard. He pauses. I sit forward in my seat expectantly. Which definition will the government’s happiness tsar pick? “A warm gun” (Lennon)?; “The greatest good” (Bentham)?; “The meaning and the purpose of life” (Aristotle)?; “The motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves” (Pascal)?; “The greatest gift that I possess” (Dodd)?
This isn’t a small matter. How he defines happiness is one of the most fascinating questions in British public life today, because Layard is quietly effecting a revolution in this miserable, materialistic, overworked country.
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