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Wednesday 5 February 2020

Generation Sad: Can We Learn To Be Happy?

History &
Social Policy

There has never been a better time to be alive. Here in the West, we enjoy levels of prosperity, comfort and security that previous generations could only dream of. Yet despite this unprecedented progress, it’s far from obvious that we are any happier than our ancestors. One in eight of our children has a mental health disorder; one in six of us is on antidepressants; and the number of teenage suicides in England and Wales has jumped 67 per cent between 2010 and 2017. Forget baby boomers, millennials, Gen X, Y or Z: we are all Generation Sad.

What can be done about this epidemic of joylessness? Many argue that we can actually learn to be happy. By practising mindfulness, we can detach from our negative thought patterns. By focusing on gratitude, we can increase our feelings of contentedness. And by improving our listening and empathy skills, we can build stronger relationships with the people around us.

But critics argue that this emphasis on our subjective state is not the answer. Rather than tracking our moods with apps and obsessing about how we feel, we need to think beyond ourselves and address the deeper structural problems in society which inflict misery on millions – such as poverty, inequality and the loss of community. Unhappiness is a social problem, which requires a major shift in our politics not small-scale schemes in emotional engineering.

So who has the answers to help Generation Sad? Should we focus on transforming ourselves or transforming society? To discuss these questions, on February 5th 2020 Intelligence Squared brings together the comedian Ruby Wax and the singer Will Young, who have both involved themselves in mental health campaigning, along with social critics William Davies, and Ashley Frawley.

 

Will Young image © Steve Schofield.

Event Name

Generation Sad: Can We Learn To Be Happy?


Choose Tickets

Speakers
  • Ruby Wax

    Comedian, presenter, author and mental health campaigner

  • William Davies

    Political economist and author of 'The Happiness Industry'

  • Ashley Frawley

    Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy at Swansea University

  • Will Young

    Singer, actor, podcaster and mental health advocate

Chair
  • Samira Ahmed

    Journalist and broadcaster

 

 

Speakers are subject to change.


Location
  • Emmanuel Centre
  • 9-23 Marsham Street
  • London
  • SW1P 3DW
Time
  • Wednesday 5 February 2020
  • 7pm to 8:30pm



Speakers

Speakers

Ruby Wax

Comedian, presenter, author and mental health campaigner


Comedian, presenter, author and mental health campaigner. She holds a Master's degree in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy from Oxford University, is a highly-acclaimed TED talker and was recently awarded an OBE for her services to mental health. Her bestselling books include A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled and How To Be Human: The Manual. Wax is also the founder of Frazzled Cafés, a place where people can meet and share their personal stories in a safe, anonymous and non-judgmental environment, currently being rolled out in M&S cafés.

William Davies

Political economist and author of 'The Happiness Industry'


Professor of Political Economy at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Wellbeing, and most recently Nervous States: How Feeling Took Over the World. He writes regularly for the London Review of Books, The Guardian and The New York Times.

Ashley Frawley

Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy at Swansea University


Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy at Swansea University. Her research explores the rising importance attributed to emotions and behaviour in an era of ‘no alternative’ to capitalism. She is particularly interested in the way in which human individuals are constructed as ‘vulnerable' in the rhetoric of new social problems. She is the author of Semiotics of Happiness: Rhetorical Beginnings of a Public Problem and the forthcoming Significant Emotions, which explores the rising claims of emotional damage in public debate and social movement campaigns.

Will Young

Singer, actor, podcaster and mental health advocate


Singer, actor and mental health advocate. A politics graduate, he was the first ever Pop Idol winner. He has had ten number one singles, and all his albums have reached number one or two in the charts. Young is also a social commentator, focusing on young people, mental health and wellbeing, and LGBT issues. He hosts the LGBT Homo Sapiens podcast. He has acted on television, film and stage, competed in Strictly Come Dancing, hosted Never Mind the Buzzcocks, and appeared on Question Time. His latest album is Lexicon.
Chair

Samira Ahmed

Journalist and broadcaster


Veteran journalist and one of the most recognised voices in British broadcasting. She is the presenter of Front Row on BBC Radio 4, as well as Newswatch on BBC One. Her work spans news and the arts – from working as a reporter and presenter on Channel 4 News to presenting the Proms. She is also the host of How I Found My Voice, a new podcast from Intelligence Squared.

 

 

Speakers are subject to change.