Saturday, 21 April 2018

Posting selfies on Instagram is not the key to a fulfilling life

FOR almost two decades, Gyles Brandreth has been searching for the secrets of happiness.

FOR almost two decades, Gyles Brandreth has been searching for the secrets of happiness. The result of that exploration is Looking For Happiness, a stage show launching on to a national tour having been lapped up by critics and audiences alike at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.

The One Show reporter said: “I’m fascinated by happiness: what it is, who gets it and how. It’s been a real journey. My search coincided with having lost my father and my best friend. My sister died and then my brother died — they were going down like flies. And I thought, here I am, the professional happy man with the colourful jumpers, turning up on TV grinning away in the jolly knitwear. I was annoyingly happy. But inside it was a different story, so I started this search.”

After a great deal of research, toil and fun, Brandreth has boiled it all down to the seven secrets of happiness (as well as the touring show, there’s a book). There’s too much selfishness going around, Brandreth believes, too much focus on the individual.

“One of the things I learned was to avoid inward looking and to get away from narcissism,” he said. “It’s interesting to me that the brownies and girl guides have changed their oath to say something along the lines of discovering what your beliefs are, and discovering the real me. Well, actually, we don’t want to discover the real me. Stop thinking about yourself! There are people going around taking pictures of themselves, a selfie, and sending them everywhere. Well, this doesn’t make you happy.”

Among his other top tips are: live in the moment, don’t resist change and, put more bluntly, just be happy. But there is one rule that he believes might well override all others — cultivate a passion.

“You have to have something you just love doing. In the show I cite Margaret Thatcher as an example. Later on in life she wasn’t happy, because she had one passion, and that was politics. So when that passion was taken away from her when she ceased to be PM, she had nothing else to fall back on and died aged 87 in April, not very happy.

“By contrast, the Queen has a passion for horses and in June this year, people saw her at Ascot when her horse won the Gold Cup, the first time the sovereign’s horse had won the race in 203 years. And there was this picture of her looking overjoyed and full of happiness. You can easily see the people who don’t have a passion, from the listless teenagers to the elderly just sitting around.”

Brandreth’s passion, incidentally, is Scrabble.

* Catch Gyles Brandreth: Looking For Happiness at the Cornerstone in Didcot, the Arlington, Newbury and Norden Farm in Maidenhead. Visit www.gyles brandreth.net for details.

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