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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
So, what next?
Ask yourself this:
What do you do to help others?
Who matters most to you?
How do you stay active and healthy?
When do you stop and take notice?
What new things have you tried recently?
What are your most important goals?
How do you bounce back in tough times?
What are you feeling good about?
What is the real you like?
What gives your life meaning?
How do I spread some happiness?
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.
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.
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.
I will try to create more happiness and less unhappiness in the world around me