For the first time, scientists at Manchester University, UK, have been able to measure the amount of happiness in the world, and have come to a remarkable conclusion: There is a certain level of background happiness that doesn't fluctuate.
"A number of lines of evidence have led to this conclusion, for a start people were happier in the past," said Professor Brian Cox, who is wheeled out any time something scientific needs explaining. "There were less people around in the past, the background level of happiness was able to make more people happy more of the time."
According to the theory, as the number of people in the world increases, the share of the background happiness each can have decreases.
"It's either that," said dour faced comedian, Jack Dee, "or for every really happy person, like the insufferable Brian Cocks, for instance, there has to be a miserable bastard like me."
Sadly, Dee's also quite happy, due to being fabulously wealthy, and the dourness is all an act to make him even more money. However, the assessment is correct, and where some people are very happy, the overall amount of happiness left to go round decreases. Some people maintain their own levels of happiness, by contracting Seasonal Adjustment Disorder, which makes them sad when it's cloudy, and happy when it's sunny. These people are know as self-regulators.
"This means that any group of really happy people, like hippies," said Cox, "are evil. They are grabbing more than their fair share of happiness, and denying the rest of the world. Fortunately, everbody knows a happiness sink, those people who no matter how good their llife is, just never seem to be happy. These are the heroes, they are taking one for the team, and letting other people be happier."
Governments may have known about the background level of happiness for some time, given that they have put measures in place to ensure that nobody gets too happy, such as mortgages and taxes.
"Basically," said Cox, "people need to understand that they can be happy enough. Striving to be happier than this, means that other people will be more miserable and lose their home, or a dear relative to compensate."
Calculations put happy enough as just above not being sad.
"'Content' is a good word," said Cox. "Not as good as 'sparkle', which is my favourite word and makes me happy whenever I say it."
There is a hint within the theory that it could be possible to raise the background happiness level by reducing the happiness level of other creatures.
"Each groups of creatures seem to have their own happiness level," said Cox. "If that group of creatures cease to exist, then humanity might be a little bit happier. So perhaps all these extinctions aren't such a bad thing after all!"