High life | 8 December 2016

Here’s Dr Taki’s prescription for happiness: don’t strive for it non-stop; stay away from social media; head for Salt Lake City

High life | 8 December 2016
Text settings

Here we go again, my 40th Christmas column in a row, and it seems only two weeks ago that I filed the last one. This is a very happy time of year — parties galore, lots of love for our fellow man and happiness all around. Mind you, there is an old calypso that says: ‘If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wife...’. I’m not so sure about that; in my book, the prettier the woman the happier it makes me, but I could be wrong. My instinct tells me that a pretty woman keeps a man on his toes. No beautiful woman will stay with a man who doesn’t deserve her — not in the long run, anyway. But I’ve also noticed that many — though not all — very beautiful women are not very happy.

Why is that? Phonies such as Freud and his ilk blamed it all on sexual dreams, but I don’t agree. Planning to be happy is tricky, especially for the beautiful, who expect it. Dr Taki is rarely wrong, especially about such matters. Beautiful people are supposed to be happy but their quest for happiness makes them very miserable. Expecting to be happy, which most people do when young, is a trap many fall into later on.

Americans are desperate to be happy, more so than other people, at least if one judges by the self-help books on happiness that are published and sold each year in America. Apparently, some 17,000 books on happiness have been published, which I guess is more than the number of ‘How to murder whole tribes’ books that have been published in Africa. One theory about happiness that emerges from these ludicrous self-help manuals is that oxytocin, the pleasure hormone associated with attachment, brings happiness. In other words, when your dog looks at you and wags its tail oxytocin has kicked in. When I look at Keira Knightley and get a slight bump in my trousers, oxytocin is at work. What one should not do is strive for happiness non-stop. I don’t use or read social media, but I’m told that it exacerbates the malaise of those who strive constantly to be happy by showing others with perfect lives, whatever that means. I don’t believe a word of it. When I hear someone use the words ‘totally amazing’ I figure they are total idiots and amazingly inarticulate.

In the end, America’s obsession with happiness is better than Britain’s fixation on bitterness. A cheery nature is appreciated on American shores; in Britain, it’s ridiculed as common. I’ve noticed this many times, especially when I’ve had Brits staying with me in America and they’ve met local friends of mine. They tended to describe them as hardy, frisky or flourishing, and were very condescending. I suppose the Brits feel insecure when faced with people whose snobbishness starts on the playing field, not in the drawing room. A good athlete outranks a tenth-generation fortune in most country clubs, a fact that makes me quite happy although I no longer compete in the various sports I used to. Perhaps that is because money rarely, if ever, lasts through ten generations in the United States (the Rockefellers have reached only five, though they are still going strong).

There was a period during the Sixties and Seventies when Americans looked for happiness by becoming sexual misfits. They attended orgies, had sex with strangers, had orgasmic meditation classes, and received instruction on masturbatory fantasies. (I thought the last was God’s gift to mankind.) Now they do all that over the internet, which is why the white race is disappearing but online participation is growing in leaps and bounds. What dirty old men once did in boarding houses, as they looked through keyholes, much of the population now does online. It is enough to make you want to ban the damn thing for ever and ever, but no one will, especially not the Donald, who uses it non-stop.

Mormons appear to be among the happiest people on earth, and I’m very happy for them because I love and trust Mormons. I suppose some of the unhappiest people are those who hate everyone, beginning with the Saudi scum who behead adulterers and stone women to death for flirting. Finding bliss is hard for some in the Gulf, who only hookers and those who are desperate to make money approach. No wonder they look so unhappy. I am convinced that the reason some Saudis, Qataris and Kuwaitis are so fat is that they eat alone. Unless, that is, they pay for company. People who eat by themselves tend to overeat, hence the obesity problem and general unhappiness of those ghastly Gulfers.

But hang on, this is our Christmas issue and I have to show some Christian charity. I know it sounds phoney but old age has brought me great happiness. I have stopped being anxious about women in general, and beautiful unattainable women in particular. (Well, not really.) And I suffer less and think of others more, which is the whole point of Christmas anyway,so there: I wish you all a very, very, very happy Christmas.