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Women's talk: The hidden depths of happy chat

A recent study at the University of Arizona found that people who have deep and meaningful conversations are happier than those who just talk about the weather.

Matthias Mehl, a psychologist at the University, suggests that deep conversation holds the key to happiness because we humans want to find meaning in our lives and because we are social animals that need to connect with one another. I mentioned this at our weekly coffee gathering and was met with withering contempt.

"What exactly are you inferring?" demanded Maggie.

"Nothing," I replied. "I'm just playing devil's advocate by passing on the information." They immediately thought I was getting above my station.

"So, Missus Smarty Pants, what exactly would you consider to be a substantive issue?" sneered Patsy. I was tempted to tell her that if she could spell substantive that would be a start, but feared she might clench her fist and punch the cream out of my chocolate eclair.

"I suppose that, instead of talking about cosmetic surgery or the hygiene habits of our men folk, we might have a conversation about the, um . . . state of the economy."

"Everyone knows that the economy is like the weather -- just s***e. Is that substantive enough for you?" said Maggie.

"What about the cabinet reshuffle?" I ventured. Josie responded by asking me had I been moving the furniture around again. The three of them then sat there giving me the six evil eyes.

Dr Mehl claims that by engaging in meaningful conversations we manage to impose meaning on an otherwise chaotic world, thereby bonding with our interactive partners. He goes on to say that interpersonal connection is a core fundamental foundation for our happiness.

However, judging by the faces of the three bunny boilers opposite me, I had a feeling that Dr Mehl might have his work cut out trying to up the happiness ante in the coffee shop. I tried one last time.

"Do you think there is life after death?" Nothing. Nada. I was starting to bore myself so I gave in. "What would ye like to talk about? I asked

"Well," said Maggie. "There is a new bra coming out that you can wear under your skin!"

We all perked up and started gabbling about the merits of an internal bra system.

Deep and meaningful it was not but, take note Dr Mehl, it did make us laugh . . .