PWC's new personal wellbeing audit
When I heard that Pricewaterhouse Coopers had launched a 'personal wellbeing audit' service, I knew I had to try it out.
The audits are carried out by PWC's new 'happiness unit', run by its very own 'Dr Feelgood', Professor Hans Schwartz (pictured). For a princely sum, Schwartz and his team follow you around for two weeks, observe you in a range of different situations, interview you and your friends, colleagues and family, subject you to a number of psychometric, physical and neurological tests, and then finally present you with your own personal wellbeing audit for the year.
I somehow persuaded PWC to give me a free audit. Thanks to all my friends and family who put up with Dr Schwartz and his team following me around for a few weeks to observe and gather data - I hope it wasn't too off-putting. And now, finally, the audit has arrived! Here it is.
PWC 2010 happiness audit for Jules Evans
Summary: Despite not yet having achieved his all-consuming goal of becoming a published author, or indeed finding a long-term partner, Mr Evans appears to consider himself happy, and even lucky. Dr Schwartz speculates this could be because the subject suffers from advanced self-delusion or "is simply not that bright".
Highlights of 2010: Mr Evans was happiest in 2010 during the spring and early summer, when he was walking the Camino through Spain, and then travelling through France. He seems to have re-discovered the pleasure of back-packing, and plans to go on another long trek in 2011. He also met a Texan-Mexican girl on his walk, which seems to have raised his happiness levels significantly. He spent the last quarter of the year making up for his idleness earlier in the year, and achieved some progress in his fledgling philosophy career. He seems happy in his living circumstances, in a converted church in Tufnell Park described by Dr Schwartz as "bohemian", and enjoys playing tennis in the nearby courts. He fell in love with an American Spaniel earlier in the year, an inter-species infatuation which caused his friends some concern. His happiness was also raised significantly by the arrival of his niece, Isabel, in March.
Lowlights of 2010: He received six rejections from literary agents for his book on philosophy, which brings the total number of rejections he has received for book pitches over the last three years to around 23. He also ends the year as he began it - single.
Work: This year, Mr Evans spent an inordinate amount of time blogging, which meant he was able to double his readership from 5,000 hits a month to 10,000. He has dipped a toe into academia, starting a visiting fellowship at the Centre for the History of Emotions at Queen Mary University. He has also started doing public talks on philosophy, and he organized the first international Stoic conference in San Diego in April. None of this makes him any money. Around 90% of his revenues still come from writing about finance. One promising future avenue was an article he wrote on behavioural economics, which he may explore further in 2011. The freelance life suits Mr Evans' disordered and somewhat loose lifestyle. His caffeine addiction continues to spiral.
Romance: Our love expert, Dr Curtis Bentweiner (pictured), reports that Mr Evans is a lover of limited professionalism, and that the average duration of his love-making is a mere three minutes and 14 seconds, although Mr Evans claims he was put off by Dr Bentweiner standing next to the bed with a stopwatch. Dr Bentweiner reports that Mr Evans remains 'something of a loner', although he did spend several weeks travelling around Europe with a Texan girl, which was the longest continuous time he has spent with a girl for some years. In November, he spent a great deal of time internet dating, with limited long-term success. He remains optimistic for 2011, which Dr Bentweiner says is 'kind of sweet'.
Leisure: Mr Evans claims to get more pleasure from playing tennis than any other activity, which says a lot about his sex life. He plays several times a week, and the highpoint of the year was beating an Italian 'professional', and listening to the Italian's colourful obscenities as he lost. He also gets significant satisfaction from walking on Hampstead Heath. He spends too much on books, and struggles to finish novels.
The best books he read this year:
South, by Ernest Shackleton. He spent much of the beginning of the year reading and being inspired by tales of polar exploration. This was his favourite of the bunch. The Little Book of Behavioural Investing, by James Montier. A good introduction to behavioural economics. Justice, by Michael Sandel. A brilliant work of philosophy, accompanied by an equally brilliant website with videos of Sandel's exceptional Harvard lectures. After Virtue, by Alasdair MacIntyre. A revelatory book on Aristotle and the virtues, which Evans discovered very late (it came out in 1980). Still hugely influential. Experiments in Ethics, by Kwame Anthony Appiah. Good introduction to experimental philosophy. The Lucifer Effect, by Philip Zimbardo. A fascinating account of the Stanford Prison Experiment.Becoming Human, by Jean Vanier. Interviewing Vanier was a highlight of the year. Atomised, by Michel Houellebeq. Again, Evans was late to this, but enjoyed it. Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantell. Everybody read this book in 2010, and then banged on about it.
The best albums he heard this year:
Kanye West: My Beautiful Twisted Dark FantasyMiike Snow: Miike SnowArcade Fire: The SuburbsOf Montreal: Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? (not released in 2010, but very good)Hot Chip: One Life StandTinie Tempah: Disc-overyRichard Hawley: Truelove's Gutter (also not released in 2010)
The best film he saw this year:
The Social Network
The best TV he saw this year:
Outlook for 2011: He is excited about the coming year, which is set to begin with a bang: an interview for his blog with Philip Zimbardo, one of the great social psychologists. He's then going to Texas for the Social Psychology conference in late January, where he will be blogging, and seeing the great Roy Baumeister and John Bargh debate about free will. He wants to learn how to carry out experiments, and then to carry out some of his own in London. He is supposed to be organizing a Stoic conference in London in April, and wants to do lots more public speaking. One way or another, he plans to bring out his philosophy book in 2011.
Conclusion: Despite the occasional bouts of binge drinking, junk food, casual sex and consumer spending, Mr Evans maintains a weak and flickering desire to become a better person. Midway through his life, he is not necessarily wiser, but he is perhaps slightly less insecure. He remains driven by an obsessive desire to 'make something of himself' as a writer, which is much fear of failure as desire for self-actualisation. He still possesses an above-average level of self-obsession and narcissism, manifested in his obsessive blogging and an annoying tendency to talk about himself in the third person.
Thanks for reading the blog everybody. Hope you have a great Christmas and New Year, see you on the other side.