Thursday, February 13, 2014

Commuting causes anxiety - Official

I've been writing about it for a long time and now the Office for National Statistics has confirmed, as reported in the Guardian yesterday, that commuting causes unhappiness, compared to working from or near home. Furthermore the level of unhappiness increases for each minute of a commute, although it tails off and reduces for people doing extreme commuting (journeys of several hours).

All pretty obvious, really. Commuting is a fairly unnatural sort of experience. Throughout human history until very recently people worked where they lived. When you commute you are no longer in control but dependent on the service of the transport provider. You are often forced into uncomfortably close proximity to other people. It can be difficult to concentrate on anything other than the rigours of the journey. Modern technology - in the form of tablets/smartphones/music players - as well that old standby of something decent to read can help but never fully alleviate the problem. People travelling by car or on wheels were happier than those going by bus or train, and cyclists the happiest of all (but I am sceptical about applying this to general commuting because typically cyclists do not have a long distance to cover; for someone like me to try to cycle into central London would be exhausting, extremely dangerous and more stressful, due to the nature of the main roads, than almost anything else).

As for those making very long journeys - that is not so much commuting, more choosing to live a substantial chunk of your life on the move and requires a very different mindset to that employed by the rest of us.

I am not sure quite what the point of the survey is, given that it tells us nothing we did not already know.  If you are interested in further research, my groundbreaking study Why doing nice things makes us happier than doing unpleasant things is available on request for a modest 25 bitcoins [whatever they are: Ed]

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