Every week I get literally hundreds and hundreds of different messages, from people asking me about my views. I get letters, emails, phone calls, posts on Facebook and tweets on Twitter, as well as people stopping me in the street to ask me about different issues.
Often it will be questions about local services, sometimes it will be about national issues, but I get used to fielding questions on a huge range of different subjects. I thought I had been asked every question there was to ask!
Recently though, I was asked a question that I had not been asked before.
It came from a couple who had just had a new baby and wanted to put together a booklet of helpful advice to help smooth their child’s way in the world. Their question to me was simple: what is the secret of happiness?
What is the secret of happiness?! A very important question, but not one I had spent very much time thinking about.
I must admit that I decided to take a bit of time to think about this but, having reflected upon it, this was my reply to them:
“For me, the secret of happiness revolves around the importance of family, friends and work.
Firstly, your family will always be there for you. Never take that for granted and never forget where you’ve come from. It will help you decide where you want to go.
Secondly, good friendships are also very important. Choose your friends wisely and then look after them, knowing that in turn they will look after you.
Thirdly, I have come to know that what you do for a job is hugely important. Decide what it is you want to do – how do you want to make a contribution? Then set about making it happen.
The trio of family, friends and work are all important factors in determining how happy you are.
Finally, there's a big wide world out there – enjoy it, and make the most of the opportunities it will bring.”
So that was my advice, I hope they find it useful. I’m actually grateful that they raised the question as it focused my mind on an important issue – albeit one that we don’t often think about. Perhaps there’s a lesson there!
This article was first published in the Barnsley Independent on 4 February 2015.