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What is it that makes us happy?

Wealth or Health? Happiness or success? Each of us will have entered into a debate of this kind with a friend, family member or colleague at some point. It is equally possible that you, as have so many before you, failed to come to a satisfying conclusion.

This is likely owing to the fact that it is inherently un-British and frankly quite unsavoury to admit that wealth (or a lack thereof) has an undeniable effect on our quality of life. In fact, it has been said that British people actually value wealth over good health – of course, this is not to say that they would accept bad health in order to attain wealth.

While it is fairly certain that if pressed, a vast majority of people would choose the health of a family member over wealth, it is difficult to deny that even the happiest of less well off families would benefit from an additional holiday, or maybe the loft conversion that your neighbour has been bragging about for the last year.

So, is that the extent of it? Would we all essentially prefer to have more money but choose health when pushed for an answer? Possibly.

Unfortunately, the debate is somewhat undermined by the fact that there is a contributor to good health that is simply not available to all of us. Yes, you guessed it – it’s wealth.

A report in the British medical journal The Lancet has postulated that wealthy Americans live up to 15 years longer than their poorer counterparts. Case studies in England have been less extreme, with wealthy people enjoying 8 additional years – however, it is estimated that rich people ‘live life to the full’ for up to 20 years longer. It is debatable whether money can buy happiness, but it seems to be the ideal currency to purchase health.

As distasteful as it may sound to some, it seems apparent that health and wealth are not mutually exclusive states – in fact, it may be impossible to truly attain the former without the benefits of the latter.


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