Fishing for Happiness

Fishing for Happiness

They say that one man’s fish is another man’s poisson.  And it was over tuna sandwiches this week at the Institute of Directors that a small group of us, chaired by Rebecca Harding of Delta Economics, reflected on what some would call ‘bad news all round’.

Three of the gloomier bits of the ‘economic outlook’ that we picked over included falling house prices, banks being less willing to allow entrepreneurs to remortgage their houses, and people spending less on the high-street.

As I reached for a handful of what may have been Kettle Chips,  I began to realise that by shaking my head in despair, I was actually being a bit of a hypocrite.  So, reader, my confession has to be made, several days later;

Firstly, in a country where millions of young people struggle to get on the housing ladder, falling house prices will be greeted, by them at least (and in many cases by their parents), with relief.

Secondly, I have yet to meet the entrepreneur who told me of their house-remortgaging with a great big grin on their face.  Instead, it only seems to bring stress, a lack of sleep, and a pressure on their family and colleagues.  By contrast, those who have managed to secure angel funding, for example, have enjoyed, comparatively, sunnier times.

Finally, if I told you that I had personally spent less this year than last year on the high street, I think that you’d probably see that as a good thing and I doubt you’d offer me a comforting rub on the back. 

This is not to make light of the turmoil faced by thousands of retailers, and it isn’t to be flippant about the challenges faced by estate agents.  Both of the above categories make up my very nearest and dearest.

The way I see things, the British chancellor cannot come bounding out onto the steps of the Treasury and say;

“You know what, I think we’re all spending much too much money on tat which we don’t need and which, frankly, makes us less happy in the long run”

Nor can he shrug his shoulders and point out;

“Hey, look on the bright side, it’s good news if you’re a first time buyer”

In a ‘nice weather for ducks’ sort of way.

We seem to be given the ‘news’ by too many of the wrong people and perhaps if we had a more balanced set of messages, we wouldn’t despair so readily at the ‘way things are going’. 

At the risk of this turning into a parody of Thought For The Day, if we found a way at school to let people know that stumbling on happiness was more about relationships, well being and a sense of achievement, than about owning the latest iPhone, maybe that would be a start.

After all, give a man a fish

2 Replies to “Fishing for Happiness”

  1. Hey Oli, nice points well made. I always find it pays to have an optimistic view of circumstances, especially when everyone around you seems to be in the opposite frame of mind, as hard as it can be to go against the grain sometimes. Challenging conventional wisdom or opinion is a good thing, and it is sometimes the best place to look for the pot at the end of the rainbow. It’s not only first-time buyers that might do well at the moment, I happened to be with a group of people this week who work within some VC funds, and they felt that the coming months would be “good times” for them in an acquisition sense – however, I did get the feeling that the ‘V” in their titles stood for ‘vulture” rather than “venture” at this point! I left this lunch feeling rather bothered, as I personally know many entrepreneurs who will find times ahead tough, and I was concerned that some desperate deals may be done by some to ensure survival. So having, read your blog and felt a good shot of optimism, I am thinking that the over-worn phrase “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” is maybe a good mantra of the moment. My advice to entrepreneurs just now, for what it’s worth, would be to take a much greater interest than normal in the basics of their businesses – the overheads, controls on spending, protecting revenues, credit control and getting closer to your team and fostering the spirit of optimism spelled out here. If there is a real focus on the basics, then there is no need for the spirit of the entrepreneur to be dampened in times like these – despite the term “credit crunch” being in the number one spot of the current journalistic lexicon.


    I was thinking last night as I watched the French being trounced by Holland in their Euro 2008 match… if England had made it to the finals, and exited in their usual loss on penalties against the Germans, we would have at least been able to blame the current credit crunch for halting their progress I suppose 🙂

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