Opening world’s first Happiness Museum in global pandemic is not great timing
Opening the world’s first Happiness Museum in the middle of a global pandemic seems like terrible timing.
It implies that happiness is now history – a relic of a pre-Covid age to be wondered at by nostalgic visitors.
It suggests we have gone through so much misery that joy and laughter are now rare treasures. And if we need happiness explaining academically then aren’t we just terminally depressed?
But this new museum is in Denmark, the second happiest country in the world and home to “hygge”, which means pleasure at life’s simple things.
So I hope its curators can teach us a thing or two – because right now we are living in a world with precious little laughter.
A study of 1.4 million people in 166 countries has revealed that our propensity to laugh starts to plummet from the age of 23, when we become career-focused.
The average four-year-old laughs 300 times a day but a typical 40-year-old takes ten weeks to chuckle as much.
And we regain our gift for giggling only when we reach retirement age.
“The collective loss of our sense of humour is a serious problem afflicting people and organisations globally” said the lead researcher from Stanford University.
Because a sense of humour is “a superpower” that can turn us into more caring human beings.
The people of Liverpool have long known that and now they must rely on humour to get them through their Tier 3 trials.
They should recall the wisdom of the King of Mirthyside himself, the late great Sir Ken Dodd.
Ken had his own little happiness museum – a collection of books on the psychology of humour, notebooks filled with his jokes and a “Chucklemap” of what made audiences laugh across Britain.
“Humour and the performance of humour is absolutely, obsessively fascinating,” he told me.
“And I chose to celebrate laughter because it is the greatest gift human beings can possibly possess.”
Next month, in spite of Covid, Liverpool will celebrate the first annual Doddy Day on Sir Ken’s birthday.
There’s a joke competition, a Jam Butty Bake Off and a sell-out show still set to go ahead with strict safety measures.
It’s called the Happiness Show – and the timing is just perfect.