Saturday 20 April 2019

Forget spa breaks. Here's the hot trend at the moment for finding happiness

Want to feel truly happy? Forget about spa breaks and tasty treats. The hot trend at the moment is to allow some pain and austerity into your life, so you can fully appreciate the good times. Pat Fitzpatrick looks at how you can ride this latest bandwagon on the road to happiness

Spa treatment
Spa treatment

Want to feel truly happy? Forget about spa breaks and tasty treats. THe hot trend at the moment is to allow some pain and austerity into your life, so you can fully appreciate the good times. Pat Fitzpatrick looks at how you can ride this latest bandwagon on the road to happiness.

Spanking You

Pain and pleasure? It would be very, very naughty of us not to look at spanking.

If you really want to introduce this to your life, then move to Cork. They are mad for it down there, according to a well-known porn website. (Not that I'd be caught

dead on that kind of a site, says you, locking the door and going into incognito mode on your phone.)

The popular porn site recently revealed that 'bondage' is the most popular search term for people from the real capital. At this rate, they'll be changing their song to 'The Spanks of My Own Lovely Lee'.

You're not guaranteed a turn-on. Psychologists believe that between 5 and 10pc of us are likely to experience sexual pleasure from a painful experience. That figure rises to 100pc when you survey senior members of the Tory Party, which explains why they are so hot for Brexit.

We also know that enjoyment is conditioned by cultural influences, which is another way of saying Irish people are probably mad for it, because of all the Catholic guilt. So give it a lash, as the

fella says. What have you got to lose, except for a layer of skin and every last ounce of your dignity when the video gets out? (They always get out.)

Oh God

Every religion offers its own version of pain and denial.

Muslims have Ramadan. Protestants have the DUP.

Buddhism is strong here, given that one of its central teachings is life is suffering. (Particularly if you get stuck next to a teenager on the bus who is dying to tell you he just read Siddhartha.) Unfortunately, there is more to Buddhism than reading a short book aimed at rich hippies. The road to enlightenment takes years of studying Buddhist texts. Still, this could indeed be the path to pleasure, if someone else is paying for it. As the Buddha didn't quite say, 'Life is suffering, unless your parents are loaded'.

If mainstream religions aren't your thing, try a cult. They're hot now thanks to the Rajneesh movement, which is in the spotlight after the hit Netflix documentary, Wild, Wild Country. The pain was that you handed over your money to a charismatic guru, who then spent it on a fleet of Rolls-Royces. The pleasure was that the guru was into free love, so a lot of the time in his commune was spent having monkey sex with hot Californians. Let's just say it beats hillwalking, in terms of getting a leg-over with a stranger.

The joys of education

Anyone who has gone through the education system knows that it is possible to experience pleasure through the pain. (Particularly if you managed to cop a feel on Leaving Cert results night.)

There are two reasons that people sign up for adult education. 1: To enjoy a greater understanding of a fascinating subject. 2: Because they couldn't find anyone on Tinder. Either is valid here, and could well lead to future happiness. (As long as you remember this: just because you're a student doesn't mean you have to dress like one. Those jeans don't look right on anyone over 22.)

A couple of tips. First up, don't ask your lecturer if the explosion of third-level education courses is just a scam to force people into debt. For all their fearless pursuit of the truth, you'll find that academics tend to steer clear of certain areas.

Secondly, they say a master's is a great way to improve your career prospects. You'll find 'they' have shares in private third-level institutions. Put it this way - taking time away from the job to do a master's is like an entry on your CV that reads, "My interests include reading, current affairs and giving up work so I can spend two years with a gang of muscle-bound gin-addicts. (Aren't students very different these days?)"

Save for your future

I know. Hilarious. Bear with me though, things aren't as they seem. Despite the tills ringing like it's 2006, a recent ESRI report revealed that over 50pc of consumers are putting a bit of money away. This isn't just good for your future.

Delayed gratification on the financial front also allows you to win at Ireland's national sport - social climbing. (Tell me you didn't seriously think it was Gaelic football.)

Foregoing a third skiing holiday so you can top up your pension is the correct way to say 'I'm middle class'. (Try and drop this into conversation, rather than getting it put on a T-shirt; you know yourself.)

Having a pension also says, 'I expect to live well into my 90s, because I don't eat like a lorry driver'. Look at you, all posh. Just get your skates on, because Leo seems determined to get us all to sign up for a pension, and then they'll be as common as dressing your kids in Little Lord Fauntleroy outfits. (There has been way too much of that since Prince Louis was born.)

One final tip. Credit Unions are a good option for savings, but they still have a whiff of working-class about them, so make sure to wear a disguise if you are opening an account. (The one you use for shopping in EuroGiant will do nicely.)

Disgusting Food

Remember that Lent-style thing of going off something nice, so we could feel better about ourselves. Well, that's over now. Why? Social media influencers on Instagram.

Influencers need to influence, and very few people will pay them to promote abstinence. Their business model only works if they get to post a video of themselves holding the latest energy bar and saying it's ideal for their hectic lifestyle (aka saying that they like stuff in return for money.)

We are helpless when it comes to these Influencer Overlords, so now we're all about eating disgusting food. (Healthy food must taste rotten, it's basically the only rule.)

How is this supposed to make you happy? As with most things in life, the real pleasure is in making your friends feel bad about themselves. Just imagine the following conversation.

You: "Do you put turmeric on your porridge?"

Your friend: "No."

You: "You're such a loser."

The joys of it. By the way, turmeric is the current disgusting food du jour, but these things can change overnight, so keep an eye on Instagram. There is talk that kefir yoghurt is the next one, so you could do worse than drop a jar over to a trend-ignorant friend, thus giving them the gift of humiliation. Excellent.


Prof Bastian mentions the sea as a good way to experience pain before pleasure. That's grand for Aussies, with their warm water. The only link between swimming in Ireland and Australia, is that after five seconds in the North Atlantic, you lose all feeling down under.

That said, there are now basically two types of people in Ireland. The first group is open-water swimmers, who like to bang on about the joys of their new hobby. The second group is everyone else, running like mad to get away from them. Unfortunately, the open-water swimmers are extremely fit, so there is no escape.

Here's the thing, though. Anyone who has ever dipped their toes in the sea knows that these swimmers are right. You know that every 15 minutes spent in the water gives a one-hour glow that would remind you of the first time you took a prescription cough bottle. Unfortunately, somewhere in that one hour of bliss, you decided to crack open a bottle of red. (That's just the way we roll here in Ireland.) As a result, most of us associate swimming with a hangover. So, here's a suggestion. Take up sea-swimming, give up booze.

Oh, and one quick request before I go - try not to bang on about your life-changing new hobby. Because there's nothing worse than hearing that a friend has found the key to happiness.

The joy of giving

We all know the pleasure of giving to people less fortunate than ourselves, even when it's not tax deductible.

A bit of housekeeping before we start. The correct term for this sort of activity in Ireland is charity. Call it 'giving back' and you'll sound like you're giving a Ted Talk. I have a simple message for anyone who doesn't know what a Ted Talk is - you lucky bastards. So steer clear of giving back.

There are two types of charity acts in Ireland. (Three, if you include worthy projects that attract people who are interested in having an affair. And no, that doesn't make Amateur Dramatics a charity.)

The first form of charity is where a group of sincere people pool their talents to help people less fortunate than themselves. This is the option for you. Small bit of pain, plenty of pleasure.

The second form of charity event gives pleasure to all of us. It's where a group of D-list celebs allow themselves to be humiliated on reality TV, in the hope of furthering their career. This separates it from Dancing With The Stars, where a group of D-Listers humiliated themselves in the hope of furthering Marty Morrissey's career. Fair play to them.

Give up sex

The collective noun for people who say, "This is better than sex"? Virgins. Nothing makes us happier than sex, and science has finally managed to prove it.

In a recent UK survey, 20,000 people put an app on their phone, which pinged them at various times during the day, asking them to describe their mood, and what they are doing at the time. Based on over a million responses, the researchers concluded that having sex makes people happier than anything else. Even if it's sex where one partner goes, "Just a moment dear, I have to complete this rather short questionnaire on my mobile phone, you keep your engines running and I'll be back before you can say, 'Oh, do hurry on, Colin, I don't want to miss Antiques Roadshow'".(That's the way English people speak.)

You can see where this is going. To really experience the joys of hot loving, you have to give it up for a while. There are a couple of fail-safe ways to give up sex. One of the most popular is to get married, says you, under your breath, because if she hears you making that joke again, it's six months in the spare room. (Celibacy stops being fun long before six months. Any priest will tell you that.)

Ill feelings

The guy driving this whole pleasure-through-pain trend is Professor Brock Bastian from the University of Melbourne, author of The Other Side of Happiness. He noted that the minute we feel sick, we start popping pills to make it go away, and reckons this broad aversion to unpleasantness is creating a generation that is ill-equipped to deal with real life. When he relayed this to his students, they cried for four days and he had to buy them a box of doughnuts each to win them around. (Only messing, but you know yourself.)

Here's the obvious conclusion from Prof Brock's observation - you should get sick. Anyone who caught that mini-flu last winter will tell you - it isn't the lying in bed feeling terrible that you remember. It's the bit after you recovered and experienced a high so pure, that you decided to keep it to yourself, in case they made it illegal.

Ideally, you want to get sick in late May, to hit the ground running in mid June, when spring arrives in Ireland. Getting sick is incredibly easy here, all you have to do is take a 30-minute bus journey when it's raining. Bear in mind that travelling by bus is considered common in certain parts, so make sure to wear your 'shopping in EuroGiant' disguise, just in case.

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