Brighton and Hove business leaders debate health, happiness and economic growth

Posted On 03 Dec 2013 at 10:57 pm

Business leaders discussed health, happiness and economic growth in Brighton and Hove this evening (Tuesday 3 December).

The debate was organised by the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership and took place at the Hilton Brighton Metropole in King’s Road.

Tom Scanlon, the director of public health in Brighton and Hove, shared the findings of his annual report which looked at the relationship between health and happiness.

Dr Scanlon asked: “What’s the case for happiness?”

He said: “We know from a lot of data that being unhappy is bad for you.”

This showed itself through higher stress levels, for example.

He said that there were a lot of studies showing that people who were positive, enthusiastic and happy were likely to be healthier.

And he said: “There’s a lot of evidence that it’s not just having a job, but having a good job helps you stay well.

“Women in Brighton and Hove are generally more satisfied with their lives than men. They have a similar level of happiness to men but a much higher level of anxiety.”

Among Dr Scanlon’s “take home lessons” were that wellbeing and happiness varied across Brighton and Hove.

He said that smoking, taking drugs, drinking too much, having a medical disease and having unsafe sex were all associated with being less happy – and that obesity was increasingly associated with deprivation.

Tony Mernagh, executive director of the Economic Partnership, said that greater wealth may not in itself make someone happy.

But, he said, the Charles Dickens character Mr Micawber got it about right.

He paraphrased Mr Micawber’s famous line in David Copperfield by saying: “Earn more than you spend and you’re happy. Spend more than you earn and you’re not.”

He reminded the audience of Dr Scanlon’s five ways to better wellbeing

  • Connect with other people
  • Be active
  • Take notice of others
  • Keep learning
  • Give

Mr Mernagh posed a number of questions to business leaders including

  • Is economic growth supposed to provide happiness?
  • How do you know if your workforce is happy?
  • Is their happiness your responsibility?
  • What are businesses doing to ensure a happy workforce?

After the debate, the Economic Partnership laid on free drinks – but not too many – to help the audience go home happier.

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