Happiness
How would you define happiness? Do you think people in your country are generally happy people? What's the happiest moment in your life?
Vocabulary
  • Absence (noun) - the non-existence or lack of.
  • Ill feeling (noun) - angry feelings between people
  • Abundance (noun) - a very large quantity of something
  • Exhilaration (noun) - a feeling of excitement, happiness, or elation.
  • Gut feeling (noun) - a feeling that you are certain is right, although you can give no good reason why.
  • Awry (adj.) - away from the usual or expected course; amiss.
  • To conflate (verb) - combine (two or more sets of information, texts, ideas, etc.) into one.
  • Impetus (noun) - a force that helps something to happen or develop more quickly
  • Glimmer (noun) - a soft weak light that is not steady
  • To air on the side of caution (idiom) - to be especially careful rather than taking a risk or making a mistake.
  • To scaffold (verb) - to support something with a framework.
  • Feisty (adj.) - (of a person, typically one who is relatively small) lively, determined, and courageous.
  • Limelight (noun) - the focus of public attention.
  • To crave (verb) - to feel a powerful desire for (something).
  • To get back in the saddle (idiom) - to return to something after an absence; to make another attempt after suffering a failure; to return to something that is familiar.
  • To pinpoint (verb) - find or identify with great accuracy or precision.
  • To tackle (verb) - make determined efforts to deal with (a problem or difficult task).
  • Under the radar (idiom) - not getting attention : unnoticed.
Questions and answers
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Maria: Rory, how would you define happiness?

Rory: Well, there are two parts to it, in my view. The first is an absence or relatively lower level of ill feeling, and the second is an abundance or a relatively higher level of positive emotions about a situation. I think you need both to be truly happy.

Maria: What usually makes you happy?

Rory: Snuggles? No, seriously, when I stop working for a second and reflect on my life and how far I've come and everything I've achieved and all of the great things that are happening right now, I almost can't describe the feeling of exhilaration that I feel. And then when I get to enjoy the benefits, like the ability to sleep in on a Saturday morning, not today when we're recording, but usually... and then I get to help people all over the world. It's bliss. I love it.

Maria: What would you do to make you happy?

Rory: Well, I'm already quite happy. So it becomes a case of how to maintain that, which isn't very difficult. It's things like avoiding difficult situations. And I have enough life experience to foresee potential problems. It's almost like a gut feeling, now. You can kind of look at a situation and see when things are going awry or could potentially go awry. And if we speak about maximizing happiness, maybe it would be meeting and sustaining life goals, like, having a family and finding joys in that develop. This is in addition to seeing my circle of friends. They make me pretty happy, even though they're all very different people.

Maria: Do you think people in your country are generally happy people?

Rory: I think that most people, most places, most of the time are quite happy, or at least they're satisfied with their lives. The two are often conflated, actually. It can't be a 100 percent. Otherwise, there's no impetus to move forward. Despite everything. We're living in quite an extraordinary time with great potential for improvement and development. I think I read somewhere that people in the West, which is where Scotland is, are less happy than they used to be for varying reasons. And you can see elements and glimmers of this when people speak about mental illness and dissatisfaction with the way things are more often. But it could be that we're just more aware of these things. So I'd like to air on the side of cautious hope in this case. I think we're quite happy people.

Maria: What kinds of things make people in your country happy?

Rory: Things like family and material comfort and a sense of meaning that scaffolds all of that, these are pretty universal things. But if you want me to pick something specific about Scotland, we had this reputation for being a bit feisty and working hard to get what we want. And when we do it under these conditions, then we're happy. That's my opinion. Others might beg to differ , of course! Russian people are quite feisty, for example.

Maria: Are people in your country happier now than they were 30 years ago?

Rory: Well, people said that rates of happiness were going down, but my understanding is that they're probably about the same, but for different reasons. And the threats to happiness have probably changed as well. We're more individualistic now, so individual achievement is more likely to produce happiness. We're also in the limelight a lot more on social media. So this plays a role in determining how happy people are, whereas before it didn't because you weren't... it didn't exist. It's sort of a paradox, because while we all want to be seen as individuals, we crave the approval of the crowds to keep going. However, since more people are looking after their mental health, now, I think we are happier despite some counter indications.

Maria: What makes you feel unhappy?

Rory: Well, any kind of physical or emotional pain, the worst for me is that I feel like I'm unable to progress further. So I was a little down a couple of weeks ago because I hurt my ribs at the gym. I thought I had actually cracked my ribs, but it turns out I just had a spasm, so I had to lay off it for a little while, which retarded my progress a bit. But I recovered because I reminded myself that it's not a race and I got back in the saddle easily enough.

Maria: What do you do when you are unhappy?

Rory: I try to analyze the situation and see what the problem is. Obviously, there's like this initial reaction of like, oh, I'm unhappy, but then you can't just stay there. You have to move forward. And usually I can just avoid being upset by things, by reciting a few mantras in my head. I suppose sometimes if the unhappiness is more persistent is because I haven't eaten or slept in a while and I'm hungry and tired as a result. And when you when you understand that, you can pinpoint and tackle the cause. Um, and of course, I'll vent to my friends. Everybody does that. It's good for decompression.

Maria: What's the happiest moment in your life?
Rory: I mentioned a while back, actually, someone special met me off the plane when I came back to Russia a few years ago, and I wasn't expecting them to do that. That wasn't the reason why it was special. It was because I really loved them. It was nice, this feeling of someone caring about you and they care enough about you to set this whole thing up completely under the radar. It was like quite a surprise. And I often think about that moment. It's sad because it's over now, but I'm glad I had that feeling at least once in my life.
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