Are you happy? Does it matter? Increasingly, governments seem to think so. As the UK government conducts its first happiness survey, Alastair Campbell looks at happiness as a political as well as a personal issue; what it should mean to us, what it means to him.
Taking in economic theories and the example of Bhutan - which measures 'gross national happiness' ahead of gross domestic product - he questions how happiness can survive in a grossly negative media culture, and how it could inform social policy.
But happiness is also deeply personal. Campbell, who suffers from depression, looks in the mirror and finds a bittersweet reflection, a life divided between the bad and not-so-bad days, where the highest achievements in his professional life could leave him numb, and he can somehow look back on a catastrophic breakdown 25 years ago as the best thing that happened to him; he writes too of what he has learnt from the recent death of his best friend, further informing his view that the pursuit of happiness is a long game.
Part of the Brain Shots series, the pre-eminent source for high quality, short-form digital non-fiction.