Thursday, January 28, 2016

Cheers to Health and Happiness

No bar will ever own my heart like McGarvey's does
In news that I like because it confirms my core beliefs, Oxford anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar has just released findings from a UK study indicating that people who booze it up (in moderation) at a local pub are happier, have higher life satisfaction and have more close friends than those who do not.

I can't find the original paper, but according to the Campaign for Real Ale, the lobbying group that funded the study, "People who have a 'local' and those patronising community-type pubs have more close friends on whom they can call for support, and are happier and more trusting of others than those who do not have a local. They also feel more engaged with their wider community."

The study also found that drinking a small amount had a positive effect on well-being and some social skills (shocking, I know).

The question is, of course, is whether there's any actual causation here - and if there is, which way does it go? Are people happier because they're at their local? Or are they more likely to go to their local when they're happier? Probably a combination of both.

My guess is that the power of the "local" isn't quite as heady here the US - but I think you'd find other entities/places taking its place.

Take my friends. They're mostly parents in our 30s and 40s, which means it's not likely that most can spend enough time at a bar to consider it a "local." But that doesn't mean we're unhappy or anti-social. Replace "local" with "pool" or "my kitchen" and you're in business.

The ultimate lesson here, I think, is that the more time we spend carousing together, the happier we are - and that carousing is easier when we have a reliable place to do it . And carousing is something that I fully support - whether it's in the pub down the street or my very own living room.

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