Who are they kidding?
When I started this column nearly two years ago I promised I wouldn’t write about the weather. I try to follow Elmore Leonard’s sound advice for great writing, ‘Never open a book with the weather’. I can only imagine that perhaps Elmore Leonard visited Ireland and got a right sickener, not only of the weather but the beginning and end of every conversation. It’s all about the weather!
But weather and happiness are not linked according to an American study published in a glossy Oprah magazine that I happened to pick up in someone’s waiting area the other day. A bunch of researchers took it upon themselves to examine the relationship between weather and happiness on the back of investors spouting about the virtues of Hawaii as a place to set up shop, mainly because of the glorious climate.
The article included some quirky evidence about how the weather affected us. Fifty shades of grey—grey rain, grey clothes, grey faces that is—were not mentioned. No, it concentrated more on silly dribble such as: we are more likely to enroll in a course if we visit a college on a cloudy day, stock market returns are higher on sunny days than cloudy ones, extreme heat affects mood and is linked with more aggressive behaviour. No one obviously told them that in Ireland it is the sun that knocks us out).
Mood is one thing; life satisfaction is an altogether different matter and that’s when the study became…er…really interesting (yawn). Using a sample of over one million Americans from all fifty states over a five year period, researchers set out to find out if the weather affected our overall happiness! To discover the link, the researchers asked a simple question, ‘In general, how satisfied are you with your life?’ They then collected weather data from a big government database focusing on climate across the US. After all the number crunching was done, the counter-intuitive finding is that the weather did not affect life satisfaction. Temperature, rain, cloud cover, barometric pressure, wind speed and humidity had no effect.
So, if you’re tempted to move to Hawaii or North Dakota because you’re happier in the warmth or the cold, think again. It seems that we make our own sunshine! That I can take, but weather and happiness not linked? Who are they kidding? They have obviously never been to Ireland. Perhaps they were trying to keep business in New York where it is reported that they no longer have spring any more. It goes straight from winter to summer. Here we might as well say we no longer have summer. It lasts two days at some point between March and October and they are rarely two consecutive days.’ It’s sad but true…we might as well accept the fact that we don’t get sweltering sunshine at all in the ‘summer’ months. Instead, we get daylight. If we want a little bit of summer we have to fly…or as the report suggested create our own sunshine. People are happier and healthier when they’re positive. This is no longer pseudo-science. It’s been proved. We’ve got Oprah, psychologists and brain researchers all telling us the same thing: relax, keep smiling, be happy so it must be true and as we head into the month of June in blustery Inishowen I think it is also true that we are all relying on each other to stay upbeat and smile for all in sundry so to create our very own sunshine summer. You know what? I think Elmore Leonard was right. We really should give over about the blessed weather!