Heralds Of Happiness
Be it inspiring people to be positive and become change-makers or helping them connect with one another and spread goodwill, UK based Action for Happiness is sowing the seeds of transformation in more ways than oneBy Arun Francis
Ever since that fateful day when Pandora of Greek mythology opened the box of woes, mankind has been in an eternal quest for happiness. Whatever be one’s goals in life, ultimately its purpose boils down to being happy and contented. However, the genuine sense of joy or fulfillment stems from one’s actions, and that is what all religions teach. As they say, true happiness originates from deeds, however small they might be.
Call it the ‘butterfly effect’, a tiny act of benevolence or even a smile goes a long way in bringing about a positive change in a person as well as society. This is the driving force behind change makers—be it individuals or organizations. Action for Happiness is one such thriving international movement, which has taken upon itself the mission of spreading cheer and goodwill and “creating a happier and more caring society”.
With over 1,00,000 signed-up members across over 100 countries and an online community with more than a million followers, this UK-based movement came into existence in 2011. With the Dalai Lama as its patron, this charity has been sowing the seeds of positive change through innovative ways. According to Richard Layard, co-founder of Action for Happiness, this movement brings together like-minded people who “care less about what they can get just for themselves and more about the happiness of others”.
“OUR MEMBERS NOT ONLY DISCOVER WAYS TO INCREASE THEIR OWN WELLBEING, THEY ALSO HELP CREATE HAPPIER FAMILIES, SCHOOLS, WORKPLACES AND LOCAL COMMUNITIES.”Mark Williamson
Director, Action for Happiness
Who can join?
Sans religious, political or business affiliations, Action for Happiness embraces people from all walks of life who wish to be messengers of joy and cheer, willing to make an impact on society. They become members by taking a simple pledge to try and create happiness within their environment. The organization provides them ideas and resources to help them take action at home, workplace and in the community.
Many members go on to form local groups to carry on the objectives of the movement. Says director Mark Williamson: “Our members not only discover ways to increase their own wellbeing, but they also help create happier families, schools, workplaces, and local communities.”
‘Exploring What Matters’
The USP of this movement is it’s hugely popular ‘Exploring What Matters’ course. Since its inception in 2015, thousands of people have taken part in this eight-week long program to become carriers of change and cheer and increase mental well being and social trust in the process. Based on scientific principles, it helps members meet like-minded people and seek new ways to perceive things. With the aid of videos, mindfulness exercises and a handbook of resources, experts help participants break down mega ideas into manageable bits.
It also helps them to take small actions each week on ways to seek happiness and pass it on to others. Interestingly, recent studies in psychology reveal that attitude and choices determine as much as 40 percent of our happiness rather than hereditary factors, upbringing or life circumstances. So, this programme acts as a catalyst to trigger a change in an individual.
The latest research says being positive boosts brainpower and helps the individual remain motivated, energetic, creative and resilient. And for that feelgood feeling, there is no better alternative than sharing a cuppa with like-minded people. Action for Happiness members has started Happy Cafés to meet people with a shared interest in promoting happiness and wellbeing. Here, one can find a whole gamut of literature, posters, pamphlets, and postcards related to the theme of happiness. Members of the fraternity can identify one another by means of a lapel badge available at these cafes. At present, there are over 20 such cafes in the UK and around the globe and the trend is catching on. “These local connections hold the key to happier lives and happier society,” says Williamson.
Toolkit for schoolchildren
With the aim of creating young ‘transformers’, Action for Happiness reaches out to schools as well. Its Keys to Happier Living Toolkit is a rage in British schools. This engaging, accessible and evidence-based programme is designed to boost the emotional wellbeing and resilience of children in the 7-11 age group.
Action for Happiness has tie-ups with Netmums, Britain’s fastest-growing online parenting organization with over 840,000 members; Mind, a charity championing a society that promotes good mental health and Relates, which offers relationship counseling and advice.