London: The secret to being happy lies in turning off your mobile and concentrating on your friends and family rather than text messages and emails, a leading expert on happiness has claimed.
Professor Paul Dolan, of the London School of Economics, believes that the popularity of smartphones has seen people constantly having their attention drawn away from their nearest and dearest ones and to the devices instead.
He warned that unless people changed their behaviour, they could suffer mental illness as a result, the 'Daily Mail' reported.
He told an audience at the Hay Festival - a celebration of culture and social responsibility - in Cartagena, Colombia that there are also now mental conditions called internet addiction and Phantom Vibration Syndrome - where you have a phone in your pocket and you think you have got a text message
but have not.
"We're constantly having our attention distracted and distraction is a cost," he said.
"When you switch tasks it requires attention. Paying attention to what you're doing and who you are with and turning your phone off and enjoying being with your friends is much better for you than constantly checking your phone and checking emails," he was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.
On his talk on happiness, Dolan also pointed to research that people who are married or have religious faith are happier than single people or atheists.
Dolan added separation was much worse for married couple's happiness than divorce because of the uncertainty it caused. His advice to anyone going through a break-up would be to 'make decisions quickly' adding that once a divorce is finalised people's happiness quickly rises.
He also added that middle-aged men in their forties are among the unhappiest but levels of satisfaction start to rise once people reach their fifties.