Subject Material

Happiness is a Serious Matter

Published: 13.04.2011, Updated: 04.03.2017
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According to a recent study people in the USA and Britain are no happier than they were 50 years ago. Despite material progress and prosperity a large number of people are still not satisfied with their lives.

Gul bakgrunn med to mennesker hoppende foran. Illustrasjon.Happy jumping  This disheartening fact has been taken as a challenge by a group which calls itself “Action for Happiness”. The group was officially launched in London this week. The members seriously want to put people’s happiness on the agenda and call for   a “global mass movement for fundamental cultural change”.

Questions about people’s general feeling of contentment are added to the annual nationwide household survey in Britain. Values, ideals, and aims in life are registered, and the dismal facts are that materialism and self-obsession seem to be dominating people’s code of behaviour and ethical standards. “Action for Happiness” will on their home site advise people to help them achieve a happier living. Meaningful activities such as doing things for others and learning new things are among the advice they offer.

Another key issue is how you see yourself in relationship with a community. It is crucial to be able to connect to people in real life, and not only via digital media. The number of “friends” on Facebook is definitely not an indicator of happiness. On the contrary, digital friendships will in many cases just be a poor disguise for loneliness and personal misery. Today there is also a massive media focus that sparks off a general feeling of discontent, either with your body, your partner, your clothes, your achievements, or your whole life. This trend is followed by the marketing business, which bluntly spoken lives off the fact that people are supposed to be unhappy and dissatisfied with their lives.

Further study

Comprehension and Discussion

  1. How is it possible to measure happiness?
  2. Discuss the relation between material wealth and happiness.
  3. How can learning new things make you happier?
  4. Explain and comment on the last sentence of the article.



Note: Happy, happier, happiness. The “y” becomes an “i” before the ending. But this does not happen as a rule. Look at the examples below and see if you can spot the grammatical rule:

  • Play – playful
  • Factory – factories
  • Boy - boys
  • Carry – carried
  • Country – countries
  • Enjoy – enjoyed
  • Lazy – lazier
  • Beauty – beautiful
  • Array – arrayed
  • Lonely - loneliness

Do you see a system here?


If the “y” comes after a consonant (e.g. p, r, and t,) it will usually become an “i”. But if the “y” comes after a vowel (e.g. o and a) it will not change.