Always look on the bright side of life. It’s good for you. There’s a cheery thought.

Women with an optimistic view of the world live longer. They cut their risk of dying prematurely by nearly a third, which must be worth a smile.

Maybe, I thought, it’s the other way round, that being healthier makes you happier. But no. Optimistic people are not only more likely to seek help earlier but, says a Harvard scientist “ optimism has a direct biological impact. It reduces inflammation and increases antioxidants.”

And it’s free! You don’t even need the NHS. Despite that, there are people who prefer to live perpetually in gloom, determined that every silver lining has a cloud. Or that the light at the end of the tunnel is bound to be an oncoming train…

Then there are those like Victoria Wood and Sarah Millican who made careers about laughing at their misfortunes – and cheering the rest of us up on the way..

This research was confined to women but there was similar research a few years ago that showed, surprisingly, that football fans are some of the happiest men around – even if their team is doing terribly. There’s always the next match, when they might just win. Failing that, there’s always next season when fortunes could be utterly transformed. It COULD happen…

That small spark of hope doesn’t kill you. Quite the opposite. If there’s a chance that things might get better, suddenly the world looks rosier.

My old granny used to quote a character called Mona Lott from a wartime radio programme. When everything went wrong, in sepulchral tones she would mutter “It’s being so cheerful as keeps me going.”

And it turns out that, actually, she was right.

PRINCE Harry and girlfriend Meghan Markle were spotted buying a Christmas tree together. Well good luck with that one…

Choosing the Christmas tree together – so lovely, so romantic, so seasonal – almost invariably leads to the first row of Christmas as couples disagree about height, width, species, beauty, date of buying it, how to get it into the car , where it’s going to go and just about everything else.

If Harry and Meghan can survive that and still be speaking then I reckon this relationship could just last…

SOMETIMES women – even intelligent, successful, principled women – are their own worst enemies. Prime Minister Theresa May wore a pair of leather trousers for a magazine photo shoot. Former education secretary Nicky Morgan – sacked by Mrs May – said that the £900 trousers showed how out of touch she was with the electorate.

Then one of Mrs May’s supporters pointed out that the puritanical Nicky Morgan had a handbag that cost more than £900. So yah boo all round. God help us all.

David Cameron regularly wore suits that cost more than £4,000. Did Nicky Morgan ever moan about that?

So much for sisterhood.

THE Queen does it. Mick Jagger does it. Joanna Lumley, Jeremy Corbyn and David Dimbleby all do it. And so does the nice man in B&Q who helped me find the right sort of saw.

Work past pension age, that is. Long past the age when they could have been sitting at home with their feet up they’re still getting on with the day job. So is Professor Sally Davies. She’s 67, Chief Medical Officer and said last week that the best thing the over 50s can do to keep healthy is to keep on working – either paid or voluntary.

We know that makes sense. Having useful people doing nothing is a terrible waste of talent for society generally. Working is good for older people themselves – it keeps them involved and physically and mentally active.

12 per cent of pensioners are now working. Some because they love it and see no reason to stop. And some because their pensions are rubbish. Pensioners also provide a huge chunk of voluntary work. They keep charities and sports clubs, community and heritage projects going – often in between caring unpaid for the grandchildren.

Pensioners are a huge resource, an asset on whom the country increasingly relies.

But what about those who can’t work? Even the fit and qualified can find it hard to find paid work after fifty, however much they might want to.

And what about those who’ve been doing physically demanding or mind-numbing jobs since they were fifteen? Surely after half a century of unremitting hard slog they deserve a chance to put their feet up and do not very much at all? They’ve earned it and their creaking joints and failing health might well remind them.

Encouraging older people to work is great. Expecting them to is a totally different matter.

THE UN has suddenly seen sense and terminated Wonder Woman’s role as an honorary ambassador. Lots of people objected to her original appointment, partly because of Wonder Woman’s exaggerated sexual image, scanty clothing and, oh yes, she’s not actually real…

Then, blow me, if Woman’s Hour didn’t celebrate its 70th birthday by producing a power list of the most influential women in the past seven decades. And up there, along with Margaret Thatcher, Germaine Greer, Helen Brook and Barbara Castle was… Bridget Jones.

But she’s not real either. She’s a character in a book, a newspaper column, a film. She’s absolutely and utterly made -up.

Proof, yet again, that many of our so-called opinion-formers really don’t live in the real world…

I was shopping in Middleton-in-Teesdale on Tuesday, with a toddler in a wonky buggy. In every shop I visited, someone rushed forward to hold the door open when I arrived and again when I left. Maybe I just looked particularly hopeless… They all talked to the toddler too, which was nice. In a stress-laden day, it made things just a little bit easier and was vastly cheering.

Small courtesies, big result. Worth remembering.