There are plenty of books giving advice on how to be happy. I’ve written one myself (Teach Yourself How To Be Happier). But there’s a tendency to ignore the corollary, how not to be unhappy. I’ve been reflecting on the importance of this following a big fire near my home in Spain.
How did that fire start? The authorities are sure it was a cigarette end, tossed from a car window. That simple, thoughtless act destroyed something like 13,000 hectares of forest along with wildlife, farm animals and homes. Some people were seriously burned. In another nearby fire on the same day two people died as they tried to escape down a cliff that proved too steep. That second fire was started in the same way by a discarded cigar butt.
I don’t know if the people responsible are aware of what they’ve done. If so, they must be feeling terrible. But it’s certain their actions have caused a lot of misery to others.
Those cigarette and cigar ends are symbols. So much of life is like this. People literally hurl tobacco into their own lives and set them on fire. It’s a fact that around half of smokers will lose two decades of the lives they would have had. And yet there’s no evidence at all that smokers are happier than non-smokers. Smoking is a huge risk with no upside.
Alcohol is similar. There’s zero evidence that drinkers are happier than teetotalers. Okay, a small quantity can make you feel good for a short while, but serious drinking is a threat to long-term physical and mental health.
What about driving too fast? What about the quick, unprotected bonk with someone you hardly know? What about getting sunburned on holiday then going out the next day and getting even more burned? What about fooling around with drugs?
These are all examples of happiness being sacrificed for a transitory thrill, or less. If you want to be happy, don’t make yourself unhappy. Think through the consequences of your actions.
So the Royal College of Psychiatrists has said that the over 65’s should limit themselves to 1.5 units of alcohol a day, and on the Today programme Emma Soames, Editor-at-Large for Saga Magazine, became almost apoplectic. Eating and drinking were the only pleasures some elderly people had left, she fumed.
I have to take issue with Emma on this. If you let food and alcohol become your only enjoyments then it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. You won’t be capable of doing anything else.
My friend J is 85 and still sailing, hiking, painting, writing and bonking. He remains muscular and not at all fat. If you’ve got age-related health problems eating and drinking too much can only make things worse. A paunch on a man is the enemy of sex. It causes excess production of the aromatase enzyme which converts testosterone (the ‘male hormone’) to oestrogen (the ‘female hormone’). Alcohol is high in calories, diminishes sexual response and, following years of abuse, can lead to erectile dysfunction in both men and women.
Make sex your number one pleasure. Alcohol hardly compares.
I find it extraordinary that so many people are excited by the wedding of two people they’ve never met and never will meet. Why are so many people living so vicariously? I would suggest they get a copy of my book How To Be Happier and start enjoying their own lives.
The challenge for William and Kate is the same that faces most modern couples – how to make the wedding night particularly special, given that they’ve been living together. Not easy for anybody following the rigours of a wedding. In fact, I’d advise anybody getting married to have sex first thing in the morning, rather than after the celebrations when too much champagne has been drunk. A large quantity of alcohol beforehand doesn’t make for great sex – but a small quantity afterwards prolongs the dopamine hit very nicely.
So my suggestion for a really memorable wedding night would be to get started on Tantric sex. In fact, I can reveal that I’ve sent the happy couple a copy of my book Get Intimate With Tantric Sex and I like to think of them sitting up in bed together, reading it and trying out one or two of the more advanced techniques. One specific piece of advice. They should take their crowns off. They do get in the way.
Never mind about princes and princesses. In Tantra every woman is a goddess and every man is a god. Now that’s my idea of democracy. If you’d like to understand Tantric sex better click on the Tantric Sex button and then select Gods And Goddesses.