Young people sometimes think that power and riches will bring them happiness. As they grow up, they find this is true. Donald Trump is having more fun than any six people you know, and so was Ivan Boesky, until the Feds found out the source of some of his boodle and decided to put him in the slammer. Is it any wonder that he feels less cheerful now? Whoever said money couldn't bring happiness didn't know where to shop.
Oh, maybe not. The Age of Greed has been officially declared over. It doesn't take much cash to be a couch potato -- just a subscription to TV Guide. The key to happiness must lie elsewhere, perhaps in your relationship with your Significant Other, perhaps in your relationship with yourself. Many different sources are eager to tell you how to work on both of these.
Advice columnists, self-help manuals, taxi drivers, coworkers clustered at the water cooler, and all your best friends -- not to mention your Significant Other -- will advance a solution. Comb your hair! Quit that job! Be more confident! Be less obnoxious! Talk to her more! Talk to him less! Many of these advice-givers pretend to be happy themselves, and they offer these suggestions as if a mere change in attitude, grooming or situation were the key to glee. Don't you want to slug them?
Meanwhile, several scientific studies have concluded that the world's total supply of happiness -- which in the best of times can be easily stored in the back of a pick-up truck -- on New Year's Eve shrinks to the size of an orange. The best plan of action is to decide you really weren't in the mood for exchanging sentiments with a bunch of strangers over a bowl of warm dip. Call in your regrets to that party.
Instead, sit on the couch, pour a small glass of champagne, and get to work on the following happiness quiz. Any leftover hours until midnight can be spent making a first pass at your Form 1040. Tomorrow, you'll wake up hangover free, with respect intact and knowledge of your power, riches and happiness quotient firmly detailed. We promise.
1. When did you last roar out loud with laughter?
a. In the last week
b. In the last month
c. About a year ago
d. Can't remember
2. Who do you think is the happiest person?
a. The pope
b. Princess Diana
d. Sylvester Stallone
3. Do you feel you know everything there is to know about life?
4. Which is your favorite color?
5. What is your idea of a great night out?
a. Candle-lit dinner for two
b. A noisy party with all my friends
c. Going to the cinema on my own, followed by a couple of drinks and a Chinese meal
6. When you sit quietly on your own, what do you tend to think about?
a. The past and the good times I have had
b. My plans for the day
c. The future
7. When you look ahead to the future, how do you see your life developing?
a. Staying much the same
b. Getting better
c. Getting worse
8. When you feel depressed, how do you chase away the blues?
a. Get drunk or stay in bed all day
b. Treat myself to something wildly extravagant
c. Tell myself to snap out of it
d. Moon around feeling sorry for myself, until I feel better
9. Your partner tells you that you are looking good. What do you do?
a. Feel flattered and surprised
b. Believe it
c. Wonder what favor I am about to be asked next
10. When someone asks you what you would like for a birthday or Christmas present, what do you do?
a. Provide a long list for them to choose from
b. Say, "I don't really know so you'd better surprise me."
c. Say, "I will let them know when I've had time to think about it."
11. What would be your ideal weekend with your partner?
a. Somewhere with plenty of bars and discos
b. A quiet country hotel
c. An isolated cottage, miles from anywhere
12. If you could live your life over again, who would you be?
a. A pop star
b. A politician
d. A member of a royal family
e. A gypsy
13. When do you get out of bed in the morning?
a. At the same time every day
b. The minute I wake up
c. As late as possible
14. What is the important thing in your life?
15. If you see someone looking at you, how do you feel?
c. Pleased and flattered
16. When are you the happiest?
a. At work
b. Watching television
c. Talking to friends
17. How many really good friends do you have -- those who will stand by you no matter what?
a. One or two
b. About six
c. Ten or more
18. Do you drink or smoke too much?
19. How often do you buy new clothes?
a. All the time, as long as there is enough money
b. As often as necessary to look smart
c. When the others start falling apart
20. Why are you doing this quiz?
a. For fun
b. To find out if I'm really happy
c. To cheer myself up
1. a 3, b 2, c 1, d 0
2. a 3, b 2, c 0, d 1
3. a 0, b 2
4. a 2, b 1, c 2, d 1, e 0
5. a 2, b 2, c 1
6. a 0, b 2, c 1
7. a 1, b 2, c 0
8. a 0, b 1, c 2, d 0
9. a 1, b 2, c 0
10. a 0, b 2, c 1
11. a 0, b 1, c 2
12. a 0, b 1, c 2, d 0, e 0
13. a 1, b 2, c 1
14. a 0, b 2, c 1
15. a 1, b 0, c 2
16. a 1, b 0, c 2
17. a 0, b 1, c 2, d 0
18. a 2, b 1, c 0
19. a 0, b 2, c 1
20. a 2, b 0, c 1
Interpreting Your Score:
1-14: All does not seem to be well with your way of life. You're probably irritable and depressed much of the time and make others feel down in the dumps, too. But don't despair; at least now you know life can be bright, and you can set about doing something to improve things. Start by trying to inject some happiness into the lives of others and it will almost certainly bounce back to you.
15-28: Life is pretty kind to you but there is still room left for improvement. Your score at least indicates you have the good sense to realize you may have one or two shortcomings and are willing to put them right. You also have great ability to make the most of any situation and are contented most of the time. A lot of people probably envy your peace of mind, and you will never be really unhappy -- it's just not in your nature.
29-42: You've got it made. You've obviously found the secret of true happiness that eludes so many people so long. You should count yourself a very lucky person to be so well-balanced, bright and carefree. You hardly need to be told that the secret of continued happiness is to carry on spreading it around to others who are less fortunate than yourself.