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The Pursuit of Happiness

Yesterday I was invite to the Portsmouth University to give a lecture to first year students about how to thrive and survive in today’s modern world – how our lifestyle affects our health and productivity and success in life. When I started preparing for the talk a month ago. I knew I wanted to deliver a speech that would be inspiring and encouraging. But in my research I came across really interesting data which I thought would be interesting for you too.

I was recommended a book “The Happiness Advantage”by Shan Achor. The author speaks about going to the Harvard school to study and then staying afterwards teaching. He observed students and their stresses and challenges they go through and conducted many studies as a result of that.

He said: “There are many truths at Harvard, and one of them is that despite all its magnificent facilities, a wonderful faculty and student body made up of some of America\s (and the world’s) best and brightest, it is the home to many chronically unhappy young men and women. In 2004, for instance, a Harvard Crimson poll found that as many as 4 in 5 Harvard students suffer from depression and least one during the school year, and nearly half of all students suffer from depression so debilitating they can’t function.

Depression rates today

are ten times higher than they were in 1960. Every year the age threshold of unhappiness sinks lower, not just at universities but across the nation. Fifty years ago, the mean onset age of depression was 29.5 years old. Today, it is almost exactly half that: 14.5 years old.

These best and brightest

willingly sacrifice happiness for success because, like so many of us, they had been taught that if you work hard you will be successful – and only then, one you are successful, will you be happy. They had been taught that happiness is the rewards you get only when you become partner of an investment firm, win the Nobel Price, or get elected to Congress.

But in fact, new research in psychology and neuroscience shows that it works the other way around: We become more successful when we are happier and more positive.

A few days later after I’d started reading this book I read this article in the papers. The headline says:

Antidepressants handed to children ‘like Smarties’
The number of children prescribed antidepressants to combat suicidal thoughts has soared in the past decade despite guidelines saying that their use should be limited, a study has found.

Prescriptions have risen 54 per cent since 2005. Britain now has the second highest number of children on depression medication in Europe.

Almost 80 per cent of the estimated 900,000 children on antidepressants are taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which several studies have linked to suicide, self-harm and aggression in under-18s but not adults.

Extract take from: The Happiness Advantage by Shan Achor, page 8 and page 14-15.



Most people are stuck in a rat race and forget to actually enjoy life.

Our happiness or unhappiness in life comes down to whether or not we have higher purpose in life, which is not connected to a status or material means.


What was the last thing that made you happy?

Did you Find This Helpful? If so, I would greatly appreciate it if you commented below and share on Facebook.

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