All the hype and concern about well-being that is so ‘de-rigeur’ at the moment is making me feel uneasy. It seems that every product seller, every politician and every celebrity is able to share with us the secrets of well-being. Sadly, though, it looks like it could be more of a case of trying to start within the person rather than seeking outside influences.

The central troubled character of Scobie Graham Greene gave us in The Heart of the Matter (1948) embodies a pessimism on this front when he says: “No human being can really understand another, and no one can arrange another’s happiness.” One might deduce from this that the roots of the sentiments of happiness are more to do with internals rather than externals. No one will admit, though, that it is useless trying to make people happy.

Policy can only really deliver externals, hoping that internals are suitably conditioned by external forces to achieve results. However, this week, I have been considering the facets of what makes people happy, and there does seem to be a tendency to look at things from only one direction. Common amongst the plethora of theories out there, seem to be three common elements:

  1. Positivity – A characteristic that means someone will step out of their domain in the first place to become receptive make …
  2. Connections – The moment contact is made with another entity then engagement of the individual is possible which becomes relevant if…
  3. Sense – Is made that makes it meaningful to the individual.

Each theory may use different terminology, but the essence is the same. Without 1, 2 and 3 will not happen. Furthermore, 1 can only be sustained if, occasionally, 2 and 3 are reached,

For those providers trying to deliver true happiness then, there is a challenge to enable all three of these elements (internals) in some way, especially on the understanding that the three are interdependent.

I am convinced that, unless we can make lifelong learning for older adults a conveyance of happiness, then we have no good enough reason to argue for it. It has to make life better for those participating. Earlier education needs to be functional by nature, more of a means to and end, but later education needn’t be so in the raw sense, it can deliver other possibilities that can enhance well-being.

I expect to be examining many various approaches to happiness during my research.