Monday 25 April 2011

Are you feeling happy?

Kerry recently drew our attention to Action For Happiness (AFH) and this week we are talking about Happiness in a Transition context. We have just had a week of beautiful weather (though some rain on my garden would be nice) and lots of time off work – so everyone should be feeling pretty happy right now. Are you? Clearly happiness is pretty important to humans – there must be more quotations about happiness than anything else.

It is easy to be cynical about AFH. It states that it is non-political and non-religious, however AFH is backed by some ‘establishment’ figures and some people see AFH as an extension of Big Society and just a way to divert attention from cuts in services. Certainly I’m curious why their 10 keys to Happier Living all have pictures taken from the1950s – the message seems to be that we have to live more simply in order to be happy.

I wonder if some of the negative reaction to AFH is because it is saying that happiness is something we have to work to achieve? Surely Happiness is our natural state and we all have a Right to be happy? Maybe we have changed since the 50s and now expect happiness to be delivered as a State Service, or achieved by consuming products or by consuming drugs of one sort or another.

Do people react against the AFH message because it puts all the responsibility back on them? There are no clever pills, no products to purchase, no subscription not even a celebrity DVD to watch. So how can it work?

To me there seem to be many parallels about the AFH message and what Transition is trying to achieve.
  • Connect with people
  • Notice the world around
  • Keep learning new skills
are three are topics that have been touched on many times in this blog. I work in the IT industry and I’m very aware of how that industry pushes the happiness through consumption message – buy this Smartphone and download this app to impress your friends and improve your status. The Internet makes it possible to consume more stuff from the four corners of the world without even leaving your house and interacting with other people – just click here, it’s so easy! A far cry from a time when people commissioned the local shoe maker or tailor to make things for them and bought their food in small shops.

AFH suggests that people should practice Mindfulness Meditation in order to improve their brain function. I was introduced to this practice many years ago and I’m convinced that it does work. Some of the blog writers (John, Kerry and Chris) are planning to have a brief get together next week in Norwich to do a mindfulness meditation – maybe 30 minutes at lunchtime or at about 6pm – please comment if you would like to join us.

This week, Kerry, Chris, Mark, Charlotte and Jon are going to explore what happiness means to them and how happiness relates to Transition. I look forward to reading their thoughts.

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. ~Abraham Lincoln

Pics -, Action For Happiness

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