Happiness is not driving a car

March 31, 2010

David Brooks wrote a column in the IHT (NYT) yesterday about how the relationship between happiness and economic wealth is not directly correlated, and in fact after a point almost becomes inversely correlated.

Brooks’ example is the recent Academy Award success of Sandra Bullock which was immediately followed by report of troubles in her matrimonial paradise.

Setting aside the debate about the purported talents of Mrs. Bullock for a second, I want to pick up on another interesting piece of research cited by Brooks:

The daily activities most associated with happiness are sex, socializing after work and having dinner with others. The daily activity most injurious to happiness is commuting.

This last bit struck a chord with me. Nine years into my chosen relocation from Silicon Valley to France, I still am questioned by friends back home on what compels me to stay out here. The primary explanation is quality of life. And a strong contributor to the quality of daily living in Paris is the lack of tedious commuting: I can ride my bicycle to work; I can circulate around the city and to the airport on the metro and suburban train system; I can whisk down to the south of France for the weekend on the high-speed rail network. Come to think of it, I can’t remember the last time I idled frustratingly in a traffic jam. Vive la France !

On a related topic, this research makes me realize how our portfolio company PeopleCube is also improving happiness. PeopleCube’s SaaS software solution of resource and facility scheduling facilitates telecommuting and flexible work environments.

Clients like Bank of America use PeopleCube’s software to power their “My Work program,” BofA’s approach to facilitating the flexible work needs of their employees. It allows eligible employees the option to exchange their dedicated workspace for the flexibility to work from home or from one of the bank’s satellite My Work centers.

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posted in venture capital by mark

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