In today’s press I read that despite netting $1.3 billion (that’s right, billion as with a ‘B’) from the sale of Minecraft, its creator Marcus Persson is not that happy. I have been interested in the subject of happiness and personal fulfilment and it comes as no surprise to me that money does not necessarily buy happiness.
Up to a certain point – where you have enough for health, shelter, food and don’t have to worry about these things – having extra does not make you happier. In Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Harari argues that modern humans are not significantly happier than prehistoric people, despite having more baubles and trinkets. Indeed, there are many reasons to think that modern humans are less happy: we have too much choice, and too much exposure via the internet which enables us to see how much less attractive we are compared to the most genetically gifted people in the world, which is needlessly depressing. Many modern ‘battery humans’ spend the large majority of our waking hours with people we don’t really like, doing jobs we don’t care for, in a cubicle not large enough to swing a cat, under fluorescent light all day.
In the hunter-gathering society, wealth was shared. A bountiful day of hunting might yield a bison – woo hoo! – far too much food for one or even two people to eat before it spoiled, so it was shared among the tribe. Everyone went to sleep with a full tummy, and next time when you weren’t so lucky with the spear, someone else would share their food with you. But in a world where wealth is individually hoarded, one person gets an incredible bounty (in this case, Marcus Persson), so he has all this spare time but no one to spend it with, as all his family and friends and too busy trying to make enough for themselves.
So what makes us happy?
A nurse who worked in palliative care wrote about the top 5 regrets of her dying patients, and two in particular resonated with me. She writes:
I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved.
It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.
I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.
What I love about this lamb breast recipe is that it takes 5 minutes prep, then 2 hours of hands-off time during which you can go out and do something that makes you happy, whether it be taking a walk to your local playground and swing and climb like a kid, or go visit some family or friends instead of just checking out what they’ve been up to via facebook. Personally I love swimming in natural waterholes and taking my gymnastic rings to the park and hanging upsidedown. Lamb breast (also known as lamb ribs) are my favourite cut, with the added bonus of being very economical (around $6-7/kg). Most of the fat renders out during cooking and what’s left is absolutely delicious.
2 lamb breasts (approximately 1-1.1kg each)
8 cloves of garlic, peeled
cooking salt, 1½ tsp
4 sprigs of rosemary, leaves stripped
verjuice (or apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar or lemon juice)
Pound the garlic, rosemary and salt until the garlic is crushed; it does not need to be perfectly smooth. Add a drizzle of olive oil to make a paste. Rub some of the garlic paste on the underside of the lamb (the bony side), then turn right side up and rub on the remaining paste. Place lamb in a foil-lined baking tray and bake in a preheated oven 140°C for 2 hrs. I place a dish of water in the oven to prevent the lamb from drying out. Just before serving, sprinkle some verjuice over the lamb. It needs a bit of acidity helps to cut through the unctuousness of this cut.