Happiness and its causes conference 2019 - Part 1

21 Jul 2019



Part 1 - Michael Mosley


This week I attended the Happiness & Its Causes conference at the International Convention Centre Sydney (apparently the worlds’ largest conference in happiness and wellbeing!) and I couldn’t resist sharing some key take-outs with you.  Ok perhaps quite a few take-outs! If you’re tight for time just skim the dot points by some speakers. If I were to call out some buzzwords from the day, I’d say nurture relationships, have self compassion, recover well, eat the rainbow (natural as possible), exercise, mindfulness, meditation, kindness and manage good v bad stress.


The opening speaker was UK’s Dr Michael Mosley, famous for writing the best selling 5:2 diet book which helped cure his type 2 diabetes – captivating in his stories and entertaining delivery. What was sweet was his obvious deep affection for his wife who he gushed over a few times in his presentation “she really did fill an emotional void in my life” and while he was on a panel at the end of the day.




Can you guess the happiest ranked countries?[1]


If you guessed Denmark, you’re right. But it’s not number 1.


  1. Finland – twice in a row

  2. Denmark

  3. Norway

  4. Iceland


Australia came in at #10 (our NZ friends #8) and UK #19.


All the top countries tend to have high values for all 6 of the key variables that have been found to support well being: income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity. 


3 Major factors for Happiness:


  • Money – having ‘enough’

  • Relationships – the most important predictor

  • Health – a healthy life expectancy


Money: How much money to be happy I hear you ask? Or how much is ‘enough’?


I suppose it depends on your values and what your priorities and goals are in life. However Dr Michael Mosley reports a surprising $30k for singles and $60k for couples (perhaps this is USD?!), with the diminishing returns on happiness levels at:


  • For males: $100k   ($130k – feeling they’ve ‘made it’)

  • For females: $80k  ($150k – feeling they’ve ‘made it’)


Being in Martin place and the bulk of our clients being corporate rockstars, I’m sure some of you are giving yourselves a pat on the back for above :) 


Ok, so money is taken care of, what next?


Relationships: So what are the secrets of a happy relationship?


We need to avoid expressing criticisms and contempt towards our partner/s.


  1. Nurture mutual fondness and admiration (celebrate them!)

  2. Turn towards each other – give genuine attention and response when communicating

  3. Build love maps – take interest in their world, know the names of their friends

  4. Be kind to each other

  5. Make jokes


Health: What are the keys to a healthy life expectancy?

Healthy life expectancy is affected by weight, nutrition/diet, stress levels, fitness, strength, and balance. However, people are only happier doing strength and fitness training if they want to do it.


Weight and depression have been shown to have a direct relationship, with obesity increasing the rate of depression by 57%. With diabetes and obesity, 3x the likelihood of depression.


Mention of the Mediterranean diet featured across a few speakers as the most recommended diet for health. This typically consists of lean sources of protein like fish and poultry, vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, and olive oil.


The microbiome (the 2-3 kg of gut bacteria) was touched on a few times as wel