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BBC 6 minute English-Is happiness genetic

BBC 6 minute English-Is happiness genetic

BBC 6 minute English-Is happiness genetic


Transcript of the podcast

Note: This is not a word for word transcript

Dan: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English– the show that brings you an interesting topic, authentic listening practice and six new items of vocabulary. I’m Dan

Neil: And I’m Neil. In this episode we’ll be discussing if happiness is genetic

Dan: How happy would you say you are Neil

Neil: I’m pretty happy I think. Why do you ask

Dan: Well, in March this year the UN published its fifth world happiness report

Neil: Is that the one that ranks all of the countries based on how happy they are

Dan: You’ve heard of it then. Over all there are 155 countries included, and Norway came top of them all, overtaking Denmark, which was the leader for the years 2012 to 2016

Neil: Well what about the UK

Dan: Ah, well that’s this week’s questions, isn’t it? Where did the UK place

a) in the top 10

b) between 11th and 20th

c) after 21st

Neil: Well, I’m going to say c) after 21st

Dan: Ok, you know the drill. No answers until the end of the show

Neil: So, Norway, eh? And Denmark the previous year? They’re neighbours

Dan: Yes. In fact, for the last 5 years, the results have been pretty much the same. Nordic countries tend to dominate the top of the table

Neil: Dominate meaning ‘control’. Ok, well how are the results decided

Dan: It’s very simple. They ask 1000 people in each country a single subjective question

Neil: Subjective means ‘based on personal experience, beliefs or feelings’. …Well, what’s the question

Dan: Imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time

Neil: That’s actually quite simple

Dan: Yep. The Nordic countries all score an average close to 7.5 out of 10

Neil: So we have a number of neighbouring countries which all claim to be extremely happy. There must be a connection….is it the weather

Dan: Well, that’s a logical conclusion, but there is another idea. I’ll let Professor Andrew Oswald from the University of Warwick explain

INSERT Professor Andrew Oswald, University of Warwick

We think that there is a genetic component, in part, to why the Danes do so well coming so regularly at the head of happiness international league tables. It does appear from the data that the Danes have the smallest amount of the, you might say, dangerous, short kind of genetic pattern. So they may have a kind of inoculation against the possibility of depression

Neil: So, professor Oswald mentioned there is a genetic component, or part, to Danish DNA which gives them an inoculation, or illness protection, against depression and sadness

Dan: Yep. All of the Nordic countries have a similar make-up

Neil: But he said ‘in part’. That means it doesn’t explain everything. So, there’s something missing

Dan: There’s no fooling you! Michael Booth has written a book about Nordic happiness. He has another theory

INSERT Michael Booth, Author

There are so many reasons why the Danes are happy, why they’re content that have nothing to do with DNA. Of course they’re happy! They’re rich! They’re sexy! They’re funny! They don’t work that much

Neil: Ah. So being rich, funny, sexy and not working much is why they are content, meaning ‘satisfied’. That sounds a bit like you, Dan

Dan: I can’t publicly comment on that Neil, I’m sorry! But there is one more piece we’re missing. Hygge. It’s a loanword and only just appeared in the British dictionaries. We don’t have a direct translation, but it basically means cosiness

Neil: Cosiness, meaning warm, comfortable and safe

Dan: Yes. Danes love simple comforts. A warm cosy room, some drinks, some candles and a fire, and they are happy. Maybe that’s the secret

Neil: Well, the secret to my happiness right now is finding out if I was right in the quiz

Dan: Oh yes! I asked: Where did the UK place in the World Happiness Report 2017

a) in the top 10

b) between 11th and 20th

c) after 21st

Neil: I said c) after 21st

Dan: And I’m afraid you’re wrong my friend. We placed b) between 11th and 20th. We were actually 19th

Neil: Well, let’s make our listeners happy by going through the vocabulary

Dan: Ok. First we had dominate. If you dominate something or someone, you control it. It’s quite an aggressive word. You wouldn’t use it for people much. But, give us an example, Neil

Neil: You can talk about a team dominating play in a sport. Next we had subjective. If something is subjective it is based on personal experience, beliefs or feelings rather than facts, which are objective. What type of things are subjective, Dan

Dan: Oh, it’s our opinions of art, music, jokes, food. You know, I like sausages and ice-cream but no one else does

Neil: That’s because it’s disgusting

Dan: Then we had component. A component is part of something that makes up a larger whole. Televisions and computers have many components in them

Neil: And a person can be an essential component in a team, like a goal-keeper in football. After that was inoculation. An inoculation is a form of disease protection. It is a synonym of….Dan

Dan: Vaccination. I went on holiday last year and had to have my inoculations updated. Then we had content.If you are content, you are satisfied and want nothing. What makes you content, Neil

Neil: A warm sunny day in my garden with a good book. And finally we had cosiness. Cosiness comes from cosy, which means ‘warm, comfortable and safe’. Where’s cosy for you Dan

Dan: Oh easy. On a freezing cold day, it’s tucked up in bed with a nice cup of tea. And that’s the end of today’s 6 Minute English. Please join us again soon

Neil: And we are on social media too, of course – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. See you there

Both: Bye

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