Rainy weather does not make you sad, claims behavioural expert Professor Paul Dolan

The British obsession with the climate is what makes people gloomy

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The Independent Online

As difficult as it is to believe on a particularly drizzly day, people living in sunny climates are no happier than those often exposed to cold, rainy weather, a happiness expert has claimed. 

During a talk at the Hay Festival, Paul Dolan, Professor of Behavioural Science at the London School of Economics, said studies show the climate itself does not affect a person’s happiness.

Recently tasked with helping the Office for National Statistics measure happiness and wellbeing in the UK, Professor Dolan explained that the British obsession with discussing the seemingly miserable weather contributed more to people feeling down than the temperature itself. 

“A study was done which assessed the happiness levels of people in California compared to the North West.

“They expected that people in California would be happier because it is more sunny but they found that levels of happiness were exactly the same.

“If it is sunny everyday you get used to it and the sunshine doesn’t make you any happier,” Professor Dolan said, according to the Telegraph.

Professor Dolan also stressed that a person’s mood could be improved with a “reallocation of [their] time towards both pleasure and purpose.”

Relaying arguments from his new book Happiness by Design, Professor Dolan went on to tell audience members that people often become unhappy about situations in the future that are ultimately out of their control.

 “Most of our anxieties come from what might be,” he said, “If you want to be happier pay attention to the things that make you feel good.”

Professor Dolan also addressed the best way to deal with emotional trauma, and claimed that forcing a person to relive an event through therapy can be “harmful”.

“After a traumatic event there is an assumption that people are expecting a lot of support and, yes grief is there and they need help,” he said.

“But those interventions can be harmful. They actually lock in the emotions of the past.

“Talking can be helpful but not forced talking. Most of the things life throws at us we get over.

“There is something reassuring in the knowledge that things, in the main, are going to get better," he added.