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Measuring Happiness

Earlier this month I read an article in the Observer which shared the results of a research project which seemed to suggest that the fewer siblings a child has, the happier they are; and that only children are the most contented.

"Sibling bullying" seemed to be a key issue, as apparently 31% of children said the had been hit, kicked or pushed by a brother or sister either 'quite a lot' or 'a lot'. Apparently others complained about having their belongings stolen by their siblings and/or being called hurtful names.

These findings are part of a study called Understanding Society which tracked the lives of 100,000 Britons. However, these particular results are from 2,500 questionnaires which have been analysed by Gundi Knies from the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex.

Any parent with more than one child will likely be well used to refereeing the odd battle between their children. Sibling rivalry is normal - tiresome to deal with sometimes, sure - but normal.

In my mind, the real question this 'study' raises is something else altogether. After all, this isn't the first research project that's left me pondering its true value. Why would anyone feel the need to sit down and figure out how 'happy' different sorts of families are? Isn't that a pointless exercise?

How do you measure happiness in any case? On a scale of 1 to 10? 1 being so unhappy you spend your every waking hour thinking about gouging you're eyes out with blunt instruments and 10 being so happy you're fit to burst?

Is anyone honestly able to grade their own happiness?

Apparently those without children are 'happier' than those who have them, Fathers are happy than Mothers, we (as a generation) are less happy than our parent's generation - blah, blah, blah.

Are we all so preoccupied with happiness that we've forgotten how to just be?

You know what makes me unhappy? Reading pointless 'studies' about happiness. After all, it's not really like you can do anything productive with the findings. Unless perhaps you have a time machine that would enable you to go back in time and live in your parents era. Mind you, you'd have to make sure you didn't bump into your parents, thereby interrupting the space time continuum and end up not existing at all.

Assuming you manage to dodge that particular bullet; our parent's era wasn't all gravy either. I found a handy reminder of this on YouTube. I strongly recommend watching it, giggling and perhaps sending it on to a friend.

So, over to you - do you give these studies head space? Do they offer anything useful in terms of insight?

Also, if you're happy and you know it (and you really want to show it) clap your hands, or hit up those comments ;)

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Leave a comment

    From Lucy Quick
    @MummyZen - Fair point! I think this particular study just made me a bit ranty :) x

    @Crystal Jigsaw - thanks for your comment x
    From Crystal Jigsaw
    My daughter Amy, is an only child and I have no intention of making her a sibling! I think that sibling rivalry that goes on between young kids is perfectly normal.

    CJ xx
    From Mummy Zen
    Interesting post Lucy! I think it depends on the study as to whether it provides any insight. I've written a couple of posts after reading articles on particular studies because I've felt that they have offered some food for thought. You're right that you can't really measure something like happiness - it's a personal thing, depends on many factors specific to a particular person but maybe a good study can raise an issue that you've not considered or that might inspire you to make a small change in your life that could make you happier.

    Some studies though seem like a complete waste of time and don't appear to offer any useful or constructive research or conclusions. I've no time for those ;-)
    From Lucy Quick
    Thanks for your comment Penny, here's to focusing on the things we can control :)
    From Penny
    I am with you on this, I often find these kind of studies just set off pointless comparisons and anxieties. I am sure there are lots of studies out there which outline the huge benefits of siblings too. How many siblings we have is not under our control, but other things are, better to focus on those.
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