Action For Happiness: What can you do?

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. ~ Dalai Lama

Around seven million people are afflicted by a mental health condition. But only 15 per cent of that total are being treated. Personal experience has taught me that sadly our UK NHS system can not be replied upon for mental health treatment and therefore has made me a firm believer in looking at all alternatives which cross my path. Whether you suffer from a mental health condition or not we all want to live happy and fulfilling lives and we want the people we love to be happy too. So happiness matters to all of us. While social context may indeed be an influencing factor, ultimately the key to happiness does indeed lie within each and everyone of us.

Happiness Facts

Happiness Facts

Pioneering economist Richard Layard has spent the best part of a decade arguing that we simply must find an answer to the question, how could we become a happier nation? Layard, along with Geoff Mulgan and Anthony Seldon, and their passion for creating a happier society, founded Action For Happiness in 2010. The aim is simple; to create more happiness in the world around us and less misery. Could you imagine if even half of us signed up to this? WOW.

What are their values?

  1. We can each affect our happiness and the happiness of those around us

There is a wide range of proven actions we can take to boost happiness, both for ourselves and others. Although partly determined by factors outside our control – such as our genes and circumstances – our happiness is significantly affected by the conscious choices we make and the way we choose to react to what happens to us. Happiness is also contagious, so when we feel good we help make others around us happier too.

  1. We need to prioritise the things that cause happiness

Positive relationships are the most important ‘external’ contributors to happiness. We need to put people first and do everything we can to create positive, loving and collaborative relationships in our families, organisations and communities. Good mental health is the most important ‘internal’ contributor to happiness. We need to take care of our emotional and psychological health as well as our physical health and give much greater support to those struggling with anxiety and depression.

  1. Helping others is essential for a happier society

Self-centred individualism is not the route to happiness. Helping others is of course good for their happiness, but it also makes us ourselves happier and healthier too. Giving connects us together, provides us with a sense of meaning and makes us more accepting of ourselves and others. It creates stronger communities and helps to build a happier society for everyone.

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. ~ Winston Churchill

Isn’t our happiness set in stone?

No. Although our genes influence about 50% of the variation in our personal happiness, our circumstances (like income and environment) affect only about 10%. As much as 40% is accounted for by our daily activities and the conscious choices we make. So the good news is that our actions really can make a difference. Hooray, what are you waiting for?

10 Keys to Happier Living

10 Keys to Happier Living

So, what next?

Ask yourself this:

  1. What do you do to help others?
  2. Who matters most to you?
  3. How do you stay active and healthy?
  4. When do you stop and take notice?
  5. What new things have you tried recently?
  6. What are your most important goals?
  7. How do you bounce back in tough times?
  8. What are you feeling good about?
  9. What is the real you like?
  10. What gives your life meaning?

How do I spread some happiness?

  1. At Work

Our happiness and work are related. Work can provide opportunities for many of the things that help to make us happy such as: connecting with others; learning and growing our skills; using our strengths; achieving our goals and finding meaning. Happy employees also help to make organisations more successful. Whether we are an employee or a line manager, there are things we can all do to help make our workplaces happier.

  1. Family and Friends

When it comes to happiness, our nearest and dearest really matter. Research shows people who have strong relationships with a partner, family or close friends are happier, healthier and live longer. And it works both ways – for us and for them too. Unfortunately we often take our closest relationships for granted. Maintaining them takes conscious attention and effort and there are things we can all do that make a difference.

  1. Local Community

Our happiness is intertwined with the wellbeing of our local community. Being connected in a community helps us feel like we belong and this has a big impact on our own happiness, that of our family, and the community as a whole. There are things all of us can do to improve community wellbeing, from getting to know our neighbours to supporting local activities and finding ways to help improve community facilities.

Take some action!

Are you ready to make the pledge?

I will try to create more happiness and less unhappiness in the world around me

Further Links

First Published 2014/07/17

Veganuary: Why go vegan?

There are so many reasons people decide to try vegan.

For most, a love of animals is the catalyst. Some people want to feel better about themselves and the impact they make on the world. Others would like to set themselves a challenge, and many combine Veganuary with their ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ and see trying vegan as the healthiest start to the year.

Over the next few posts I’ll be talking about the following things in more details but for now here is a few things to think about.


The right to live: Animals are not our property, and should not be used for food, clothing, research or entertainment

Have you got a furry friend at home? If so, you will know that they have emotions and feel pain, as well as happiness. They really are a part of the family, right?

Like us, they can feel calm or they can suffer from stress. The mass production of animals for food and clothing has resulted in an industry that puts aside the thought of these guys suffering.

You must have seen those shocking videos on Facebook? It is so easy to ignore them. They’re awful to watch. But, the truth is even worse.

Unfortunately two of the worst areas are the most common food sources, the dairy and egg industries.

Research shows that chickens probably suffer the most miserable existence of all factory farmed animals. Yet their eggs are consumed on an overwhelming scale. For your information, I am was cheese obsessed! However, the hard truth is dairy cows have their calves removed from them only hours after giving birth, after being forcibly impregnated to ensure they produce milk. Like any mother, they grieve. So too do their young. (sorry, I know it isn’t nice to read).


A healthier and happier life.

The reason so many people are going vegan? Research shows that health is now the second biggest driver.

I for one completely understand. I have never felt better than I do now. Ever.

More and more people are ditching animal products in order to combat specific health problems. Others report general improvements in energy and vitality, and exclaim that they’ve ‘never felt better’. Stories of successful vegan athletes and sports stars are on the increase, and plant-based living is regularly profiled in health and wellness publications.

All my blood tests are good, and my vital signs are good, and I feel good, and I also have, believe it or not, more energy.Bill Clinton (became vegan after emergency heart surgery).


What the environmental agencies should be telling you…

Could going vegan be the smartest decision you can make to help protect our planet?

Growing evidence suggest it may well be.

Eating vegan makes a more positive impact than giving up your car; it can halve your greenhouse gas emissions and it will save wild animals from extinction. How mind blowing is that?

Have you seen Cowspiracy?

Cowspiracy is a groundbreaking feature-length environmental documentary following an intrepid filmmaker as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today.

Yikes folks, this shit just got serious.


Getting the right nutrition is easy… You just need to know where to find it!

Thinking about your nutrition is a good thing. However, media scaremongering and subsequent public misconception cause people to worry about going vegan more than is ever necessary.  How many adverts do you see daily about diets/health/wellbeing?

The NHS Choices website states that the majority of necessary nutrients can be achieved with a varied and balanced vegan diet, and this is exactly how we advise you to eat. Eat a variety of foods, not only to guarantee that your nutritional needs are being met but to really make the most of being vegan.

Welcome to the world of health, vitality and fun!

So try vegan for a month and discover a whole new world of taste and flavour. We guarantee that, by the end of the January, you’ll feel fantastic! Sign up today.

Introducing Veganuary

Fancy a New Year’s challenge?

Want to feel better, be healthier, AND all whilst helping our beautiful planet?

Introducing Veganuary. Ta da.


Veganuary aims to reduce the suffering of animals by inspiring and supporting people across the globe to go vegan for the month of January.

Launched in the UK in January 2014, Veganuary (pronounced vee-gan-uary) is a global charity that encourages people to try vegan for January.

Veganism is one of the most effective choices a person can make to reduce the suffering of animals, help the planet and improve personal health.

images2As a charity, Veganuary is dedicated to changing public attitudes, while providing all the information and practical support required to make the transition to veganism as easy and enjoyable as possible. Veganuary has had an incredible degree of success in a very short time and is changing lives all over the world.

Veganuary’s founders, Jane and Matthew, knew that month-long pledges were not unusual, but felt that it could be done differently, and perhaps more successfully, by focusing on the month of January; a time for resolutions and new beginnings. is the largest website of its kind on the web. With expert advice and information, it provides all the answers to Why go vegan, but it is the support offered to answer How to go vegan that truly sets Veganuary apart.

Dedicated to providing this information to a global audience, will be translated into many images1languages, with this page being the first section translated in each. In time, Veganuary aims to have fully-functioning versions of in all the main world languages

So try vegan for a month and discover a whole new world of taste and flavour.

I guarantee that, by the end of the January, you’ll feel fantastic! Sign up today.

Further Reading

Broken Light Collective ~ the online photography gallery for people affected by mental illness

Don’t you just love it when you stumble upon an absolute gem on the interweb?

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Danielle Hark has been affected by mental health challenges, both herself and with loved ones, she has made it her mission to empower as many other people who are struggling as possible, especially through the use of photography and creativity.

Danielle created Broken Light Collective in March of 2012 when she was going through a severe depressive episode. With support 23 a Alston_waterbabyy_72144121__144121and encouragement she found that when she began photographing again it was a powerful tool, both personally and therapeutically. As many of us know sometimes getting out of bed and engaging with the world seems impossible. For Danielle the Collective gave her purpose and inspiration to spread the Light.

Supported by volunteers and mental health professionals Broken Light’s main goal is to create a safe and accepting environment where photographers of all levels who are affected by mental health issues can display their work, as well as inspire one another to keep going and keep creating, despite the dark or scary places in which they may find themselves. Their first LIVE gallery exhibit is running at the non-profit Fountain Gallery in NYC from June 26th – August 13.

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The photographic mélange of images in this show represents a variety of mental states as well as photographic genres including self-portrait, nature, abstract, street photography and more. In these images we observe dark and light, suffering and hope. We see things that are broken or abandoned, but we also find life emerging from the rubble. We see people in pain as well as those finding light at the end of the tunnel. As an artist with mental illness and a mental health advocate, I am honored to be curating this exhibit for Fountain Gallery. ~ Danielle Hark


23 Hark_A00001_023a_72From Darkness to Light represents a cross section of the Broken Light Collective online gallery in terms of style, location, age, and mental health and developmental challenges. The 36 photographers from around the globe who are featured in the show have been affected by conditions including depression and anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, OCD, addiction, and autism.

From Darkness to Light  June 26 – August 13

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Broken Light Collective Website

Broken Light Collective Facebook

Broken Light Collective Twitter


Fountain Gallery

02 Ninth Avenue at 48th Street

NYC 10019


Hours: Tues.-Sat. 11-7; Sun. 1-5

More than a gallery. A movement.

Danielle Hark Website

Danielle Hark Twitter

Huffington Post: Coming Out of the Bipolar Closet by Danielle Hark

First Published 2014/07/10

Let’s talk…Nutritional Therapy and Skin Regeneration with Alice Mackintosh

Alice Mackintosh is London’s leading nutrition consultant. She gained a First Class Honours degree in Nutritional Therapy, at the renowned Centre for Nutrition Education in the UK, and now advises on all aspects of nutrition at the prestigious Food Doctor clinic on Harley Street.

Alice is known for her infectious flair and passion for nutrition, which helps to motivate her clients to make positive and meaningful changes to their health without being dull or overly restrictive. As well as seeing clients on a one-to-one basis, Alice regularly writes for magazines and newspapers; and is often invited to comment on a host of nutritional matters on BBC World News and BBC Radio 4. She is also an author, and has been asked edit and contribute to an array of nutrition and health related books.

Meet Alice Mackintosh.

new website

What led to you decide not to qualify as a medical doctor and become a nutritionist instead?

It was a combination of factors. I worked very hard to secure my place at medical school but when it came down to it I decided that it wasn’t quite the right route for me at that time. I was still adamant that I wanted to help others overcome illness but was more focussed on trying to work out exactly what was going wrong internally to manifest the disease in the first place. Nutrition works to this philosophy whilst adhering to the functional medicine model; once I had discovered this I knew with certainty that it was where I wanted to go.

I have no doubt that had I done medicine, I would have gone on to study nutrition and use the two together.

What do you see as the biggest challenges with diet in today’s world?

This challenge will have undoubtedly have evolved over time, but with communication and media playing such an enormous role in modern life, misinformation seems to me to be a major hindrance for a lot of people. You can find someone telling you to do almost anything you want online and we live in a world that bombards us with information about what to eat, when, how and why. It has become so complicated that it is no wonder that people we are so confused!

One of the biggest obstacles that stands between us and health is being able to separate the fact from the fiction; however with increasing prevalence being placed on nutrition, this is only likely to get more tricky.

Beauty is not skin deep

Nutritional Therapy, what’s it all about?

Contrary to belief, it is about far more than simply telling people what to eat. Essentially the aim is always to work out what makes the person in front of you tick. What are the underlying imbalances and what triggers are contributing to their issue? Of course what they eat is crucial to this, but your job as a therapist is to really make a detailed assessment of their health; how their unique requirements and circumstances have brought them to where they are and what strategy can be best incorporated to help get them past it.

The real trick is to then get them to do it – but that’s a whole other story!

Food%20Doctor%20logoHow does your work help others?

Helping people is really inherent to nutritional therapy – it defines its purpose. Exactly how I help someone and to what extent will be very much dependent on their objectives but also their level of commitment and determination – essentially I help them to help themselves. The buck stops with them.

How have your own experiences influenced your work?

Like so many, I used to think I ate well but was in fact getting it very wrong! As soon as I changed, my hair, skin and nails made an immediate and visible transformation and this was a major factor for wanting to show others how they could do the same. I am lucky to be continually amazed by my job which always spurs me on to continue learning more.

Get Glowing!

How can nutrition help skin regeneration?

As the largest organ in the body, the skin is incredibly complex and is under the influence of many other body systems. Immunity, liver function, hormones and digestion are but a few that will impact on its health and thus, its appearance.

Given that healthy glowing skin is so strongly determined by what lies beneath, it is a reliable barometer of the health of the body and can tell us a lot about what is going on internally. Undesirable symptoms often suggest imbalances in any one or more of the body’s systems and nutrition can be an incredibly powerful way of tapping into the body and fine tuning it’s function.

How did you find the Hip and Healthy 10 day sugar detox last year? Is sugar the greatest evil of our time?

To be honest my daily sugar intake is very limited already… I did struggle without any fruit, dark chocolate and the odd glass of wine but overall it wasn’t too tricky for me. We had a lot of people giving great feedback and I think doing programme like that is a great way to recalibrate your eating habits. no-sugar-710

That being said, I don’t think one thing is necessarily the root of all-evil – we cannot simply generalise in that way. There is absolutely no doubt that the fact that we eat far too much sugar is a problem and it is likely a major contributor to many of the epidemic health conditions facing the population. It isn’t single-handedly taking the world down though.

Stress, sedentary lifestyles, smoking, saturated fat, Nicolas Cage – what about all these things?!

What is your message to cynics, sceptics, and the intrigued?

When I tell people that my job is based on the premise that food can alter the way our bodies function, some respond with intrigue and belief; whilst others say that they eat a lot of junk and are ‘perfectly healthy’. Whilst I would always be delighted if that were the case, upon further questioning it seems as though it rarely is. Monthly PMS, headaches, low energy, blemish prone skin, disturbed sleep and excruciating hangovers (that somehow reach the two-day mark) seem now to be considered a normal part of day-to-day life. In fact, these things can be a sign that the body is not working at full capacity. It is my belief that many people have forgotten what it feels like to be truly healthy, and experience has shown that when people change the way they eat and start supplying the body with the types of fuels it needs to flourish, they often find that niggling symptoms start to diminish.

I hasten to add that I rarely try to convince people who I can sense aren’t, or never will be, interested – if it isn’t your thing then so be it, whatever works for you.

Finally, what are your top tips for self-love?

  1. Learn how to listen to your instincts and have the strength to follow them – they are normally telling you what is right. Even if it’s not what you want to hear, listen and learn.
  2. Do more of what you love – if it makes you feel good, do it. Perhaps if that thing isn’t especially good for you then don’t do it to excess but remember, YOLO!
  3. Stress less and stop worrying… it is rarely of much consequence. I will admit that I can really relate to people who struggle with this as I find it next to impossible to switch off but you have to find a way. Sometimes it helps to put the worry into perspective – it is rarely memorable a week or even a day later. Massage, acupuncture, sex, manicures, Harvey Spectre – whatever releases the tension!
  4. Look after your health, because the moment you lose it, you and your family will think of nothing else but getting it back.
  5. Gratitude – it’s so much rewarding than negativity and self-pity. Get into the habit of actively listing the things you are grateful for and you will see the list grow and grow as time goes by.

There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle, or you can live as if everything is a miracle. ~ Albert Einstein

Further Links

First Published 2014/06/22