March 20th was the International Day of Happiness. Sounds a bit trite? Well, the national mental health and wellbeing charity, Action for Happiness, is doing its bit to help people find happiness, break isolation and build social cohesion – despite life’s difficulties. Take a look at the BBC’s coverage of AfH on the day.
Locally, AfH will be running a new course called Exploring What Matters to help people discover how to live a happier and kinder life. Evaluation surveys from over 1,000 previous course attendees have showed significant improvements in both the personal wellbeing (+20% Life Satisfaction; +13% Mental Wellbeing) and also in the pro-social behaviour (+9% Compassion; +16% Trust) of the course participants, and we could all use a bit of that.
Jasmine Hodge-Lake came to the course having suffered for over a decade with chronic pain which left her unable to work. She describes how it helped her:
“I wouldn’t be where I am now without Action for Happiness and that course. I found there were things I could do that would make a big difference and started to feel hopeful about the future. I still have bad days and life certainly isn’t perfect. But it has really helped me so much. Now I’m trying to be the change that I want to see.”
The course is based on groups of up to 24 people exploring “big questions” together each week. The questions/themes for the 8 sessions are as follows:
- What really matters in life?
- What actually makes us happy?
- Can we find peace of mind?
- How should we treat others?
- What makes for great relationships?
- Can we be happier at work?
- Can we build happier communities?
- How can we create a happier world?
Each weekly session follows the same structured format, which includes:
- Tuning In. Starting each session with short mindfulness and gratitude exercises to create a calm and positive atmosphere and to encourage friendly connections.
- Expert View. Watching a short video relating to the theme, including talks by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Richard Layard, Karen Armstrong, Ed Diener and Brene Brown.
- Personal View. Reflecting on personal experiences relating to that week’s theme.
- Did You Know? Learning interesting new ideas based on the latest research.
- Group Discussion. Having an in-depth discussion in small groups of 3-4 people.
- Action. Committing to a personal action to take based on what has been discussed.
Participants are asked to make a donation of £90 to attend. However, there is a genuine pay-what-you-can offer if that is too much – no questions, no embarrassment so that the course remains open to everyone regardless of their ability to pay. On the other hand, Participants who are able to donate more help to ensure the course is available for those who have less.
The course will take place at The Viables Community Centre every Thursday for 8 weeks, starting on 2nd May. Please get your tickets now from Eventbrite.
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