wisdom to win

 Wisdom to Win
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Richard Layard (1934- )Richard Layard


A leading British economist, former education adviser to the British prime minister, Tony Blair (pictured right below), and expert in happiness and quality of life (pictured right).

In Britain has a co-founded Action for Happiness, committed to increasing people's happiness.



Key bookRichard Layard

Happiness (2005)


The “Big Seven” causes of happiness are:


1. Family relationships

Giving and receiving love.


2. Financial situation

You’ll be happier if you earn more than your peers.

But your competitive desire to beat them (in the rat race or “hedonic treadmill”) may encourage you to overwork.

So, at a certain income (around $20,000) more money will start to make you less happy.


3. Work

  • doing something worthwhile and creative.
  • having challenging (but achievable) aims.
  • getting the right balance between work and leisure (work-life balance).

People adapt to higher income by wanting even more and overworking (adaptation).

So taxes improve people’s quality of life, because they discourage people from working too much.


4. Community and friends

Friendships (and also relationships) are dependent on trust, empathy and self-control.


5. Health

(physical and mental well-being and the control of suffering).


6. Personal freedom 

The ability to:

  • do what you want.
  • buy what you want.
  • have a say in the decisions that affect you (e.g. democratic elections and referenda).


7. Personal values (philosophy of life)

  • doing good (valuing people not money).
  • being positive (and appreciating what you’ve got).
  • spiritual purpose and fulfilment (e.g. from God and religion).


Happiness is the purpose of life, so it should be:

  • taught in schools.
  • given top priority by governments, communities and individuals.


Key quotes on happiness

Happiness is feeling good and misery is feeling bad.

People who believe in God are happier.

People are happier if they are compassionate, and they are happier if they are thankful for what they have.


Key quote on success

What matters is not what life brings to you, but what you bring to life.


Key quote on emotional intelligence

Our thoughts do affect our feelings.


Key quote on relationships

We need other people, and we need to be needed.

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