Happiness is what we want, what we really want

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence”, wrote Aristotle in the 4th century BC. Two millennia later Descartes said, “Everyone seeks everything else as a means to the goal of happiness, while no one seeks happiness as a means to any other goal”.

Four hundred years after Descartes, the TCA agency (the guys who did the remarkable Bob Monkhouse Prostate Cancer campaign) celebrated their 25th anniversary by commissioning a study by Melanie Howard of the Future Foundation on what happiness represents to 25 year olds. I went to the presentation yesterday by Melanie and TCA Planning Director James Champ.

As I took notes on what are and what aren’t the drivers for happiness in young adults, it suddenly occurred to me that it is very easy to talk and write about decision making (as I am prone to do) without mentioning happiness, which is clearly at the heart of emotional motivation.

Hence the quotes from two great philosophers

Hence grateful thanks to TCA for reminding me of what should have been staring me in the face

Hence a new determination to interpret much of Behavioural Economics in terms of the pursuit of happiness

Hence two new filter questions when we are analysing the risk/reward equation on the cusp of making a decision:

  • What upside would make me/us happiest?
  • What downside would bring the greatest risk of unhappiness? 

The findings of the study are still embargoed. If you want to know more, try emailing Adam.Leigh@tcalondon.com