British Expat Newsletter:
23 November 2003

Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.

In this issue

  • This week: Happiness
  • Virtual Snacks
  • Sponsor
  • Bizarre Searches
  • Joke and quotation

This week

First of all, sorry if you received a very strange looking newsletter last week. It looked fine on some browsers, but on others it came out a lot larger than we had intended. One person gave us the feedback that it was “humungous”. We certainly didn’t mean for that, so thanks for bearing with us, and we’ll endeavour not to let it happen again. (Mind you, we’re not sure how it happened in the first place, so preventing it from happening again could be a little dodgy. Urgh.)

Are you happy? If not, wouldn’t you like to be able to wave a magic wand and make everything rosy? Apparently one group of psychologists have decided that the traditional psychologist’s activity of trying to find out what makes people unhappy isn’t really very productive – the absence of unhappiness isn’t the same thing as happiness. So they’ve decided to spend their time finding out the secret of what makes for a fundamentally happy person. Predictably, the answer their research is coming up with is that happiness isn’t to be found simply in material possessions or hedonistic pastimes (the “pleasant life”) – it’s in using your skills and talents to the full, either for your own social activities (the “good life”) or for others’ benefit (the “meaningful life”). (Damn.)

Equally predictably, though, other psychologists have cast doubt on whether the “positive psychology” movement has any real substance to it, or is simply an elaboration of older “think happy thoughts” ideas. But evidently there was enough substance there for the Royal Society, Britain’s premier scientific institution, to host a two-day symposium on “the science of well-being” last week.

The group’s website at has a whole host of questionnaires you can fill in to find out what your “signature strengths” are, and which help them with their research. (Before filling the questionnaires you have to register, which entails giving certain biodata – but it doesn’t take long and they undertake to keep things anonymous. Mind you, some of the questionnaires can go on for pages and pages, so be warned!)

Virtual Snacks

Just a couple of suggestions if you have a little time to spare:

Someone I “met” on the Internet is Richard Dobbie. Among other things he runs TravelSnapz – travel the world for just a few clicks. There’s loads of good stuff on his site. Great photos, advice for travellers, and a lot more. Why not surf over and have a look?

If you’re a fan of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series of books, there’s a whole host of websites out there dedicated to Unseen University, Granny Weatherwax, the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, and all the rest of the zany and magical goings-on. One of the best is the L-Space Web!

Bizarre Searches

Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:

  • loch ness monster cartoon (4)
  • what s the latin name for gold? (4)
  • hairstyle (3)
  • things not to say online (3)
  • squirrel tetanus (3)
  • sailor mum (3)
  • instant hedge (3)
  • picture of cucumber cheese salad (3)
  • british stodge(2)

Till next time…
Happy surfing!

British Expat Magazine


“Happiness is good health and a bad memory.”
– Ingrid Bergman, actress (1915-1982)


There was once a little old man and woman who had been married for more than 60 years. They had shared everything. They had kept no secrets from each other except that the little old woman had a shoebox on the top of her wardrobe that she had cautioned her husband never to open or ask her about.

One day the little old woman fell ill and the doctor said she would not recover. In trying to sort out their affairs, the little old man took down the shoebox and took it to his wife’s bedside. She agreed it was time for him to open the box. When he did, he found two crocheted doilies and a bundle of money totalling £2,500. He asked her about the contents.

“When we were to be married,” she said, “my grandmother told me the secret of a happy marriage was to never argue. She told me that if I ever got angry with you, I should just keep quiet and crochet a doily.”

The little old man was so moved, he had to fight back tears. Only two doilies were in the box. She had only been angry with him twice in over 60 years. He almost burst with happiness.

“Darling,” he said, “that explains the doilies, but what about all this money? Where did it come from?”

“Oh,” she said, “that’s the money I made from selling the doilies.”

This entry was posted in 2003 and tagged , by Kay McMahon. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kay McMahon

Kay has been an expat for nearly 30 years. She set up the British Expat website back in early 2000, whilst living in London and missing the expat life. These days she spends much of her time lugging computers and cameras around the world. (Dave gets to deal with all the really heavy stuff.)

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