Why, when we are one of the richest nations in the world, did  we come so low on the international happiness scale? When did we lose our national optimism? This country has been through much darker times but I do not remember so much pessimism. Have we become too used to material wealth that we can no longer enjoy the simpler things of life?

Yes we are entering an economic recession but when we read the rest of the news  about other parts of the world we should count our blessings.

We complain about the government (whichever party is in) but at least we are free to complain and do not risk being thrown into jail, beaten up or murdered for those views.

We do not have to watch our children starve. We do not have to walk for miles every day to collect clean water. For all the imperfections we can get free medical care and 13 years of free education. I saw a programme on TV recently where UNICEF travelled on a long and arduous journey to take vaccinations to people who had walked many miles to the clinic and waited overnight in a patient queue to receive them.

I saw another programme soon afterwards where people were being asked how the financial crisis was affecting them.”We’ll have to cut down on holidays”, “we can only go out at weekends now” “I have to stop and think, do I really need that before I buy!”

We all share the blame for the situation we are now in, successive governments since the 80s for deregulating the markets,banks for irresponsible lending, and the general public for irresponsible borrowing. No one forced us to buy bigger houses and cars, go on exotic holidays, buy designer clothes etc by spending money we did not have or by taking equity from our homes by remortgaging.

Perhaps we will find that after we have swallowed the nasty medecine we will find it has cured this madness. For years we have said that house prices were too high and out of reach for first time buyers, maybe now they will be more attainable, maybe too there will be more of the cheaper houses available if the amateur landlords sell up. Maybe we will throw less food away. Maybe we will relearn the skills of our parents and grandparents and enjoy the satisfaction found in cooking, sewing, renovating and gardening.

Everyday medical research is making great strides and illnesses which were once a death sentence can now be cured or controlled. In the West we rarely hear of deaths from diseases that were fairly common in my childhood, eg polio and TB.

These are just a few of the reasons to be optimistic I am sure there are many more, so after this financial readjustment maybe we will be a bit higher up that happiness scale.