Happiness. Wellbeing. Positive mental outlook. Since 2000 positive psychology has been growing as a field of study. Its focus is how we can be happier by looking at what makes people and learning from it.
The group Action for Happiness formed in 2010 with the goal of creating more happiness in the world around them. In September 2015 they launched a course to help more people learn how to create more happiness in the world around them. The course explored a range of topics on happiness and wellbeing.
The group started a Crowdfunder campaign to get £35,000 to finance the course materials and everything necessary to deploy it.
They got £100,000.
The group then offered the material to anyone who volunteer to teach it. I put my name on the list the day it became available.
I’m quite a positive person. I think I get it from my mother. Maybe my maternal genetics. I’m not sure.
In my early 20s, I read the book Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman and a lot of the book stuck with me. Daniel Goleman was the author who kick-started the popularity of the phrase emotional intelligence. Quoting A Dictionary of Psychology, Wikipedia describes emotional intelligence as:
the capacity of individuals to recognise their own, and other people's emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behaviour
For me emotional intelligence is the ability to understand how others feel, and the emotions that govern their behaviours. The thing that stuck with me was the idea that emotions play a vital part in everyday life.
I then read an Introduction to Positive Psychology by Bridget Grenville-Cleave. This book is fascinating. It covers the main research areas of the field of positive psychology, such as
- Engagement or flow
- Motivation and goals
- Mental resilience
- Barriers to wellbeing
- Meaning and purpose
It made me realise that happiness and wellbeing are not just about being positive every day, but about being resilient when life gets hard. It’s about understanding what creates a sense of purpose and drive, which underpin a positive outlook. It made me realise that happiness and greater wellbeing were something that people could work towards if given the tools.
The Action for Happiness charity and its aims instantly resonated with me. When I saw that they were looking for volunteers to run a course I immediately signed up. The idea of being able to discuss happiness and wellbeing with others, or maybe even help others sounded like something I really wanted to do.
The course ran 10th May 2016 for 8 weeks. Julia Menaul also volunteered so we ran it together. The people who attended the course were all interesting people with their own stories and understanding about the happiness and wellbeing.
Each week has a set format to follow including meditation, a video and a time for group discussion. Attendants reflect on the set topic, share thoughts and get together in groups. It’s a great way to get to know people.