By Tim F

When Sally told me about the Happynesshub and asked me if I wanted to work on it, it was a bit of a no-brainer. I mean, who wouldn’t want to find out how to be happier? We could make everyone else happier. And I could make myself happier. Win-win all round!

If I were to sum up my personal experience of being happy before I started my journey with the Happynesshub – I felt that I was pretty good at being happy, but not good at being unhappy. By that I mean that when things were going my way, I felt great and I joyfully embraced life and all the wonderful things it had to offer. But when bad things happened to me – bereavement, loss or tragedy – I would withdraw and not know how to cope with life. My happiness, and in fact my whole self, was a slave to whatever circumstances befell me.

Now I’ve spent several months working on the Happynesshub – reading articles, looking at research, having phone calls with experts. And my understanding of happiness has been completely turned upside down. I’ve learnt that our happiness is actually under our own control. It’s about our approach and attitude to life.

When I think about my friends, and in fact everyone I meet, I’ve realised that the people who are happiest aren’t the people in the best circumstances – in fact, sometimes those lucky people actually seem to be the most miserable! But what the happy people have is a happy attitude – a happytude”. And now that’s what I try to have – the attitude that I and not my circumstances have the power to make myself happy. It’s not about pretending that bad things don’t happen or that things aren’t sometimes upsetting. Sometimes we get ill, or get bad news, or get hurt by other people. It’s about accepting those things and saying we’re not going to let them take over our lives.

I recently attended an event by Action for Happiness – an organisation that is committed to building a happier society. At this event, the lovely Vanessa King, author and positive psychology expert, explained about the “10 keys to happier living”, which are 10 fundamental ways of making ourselves feel happier. The thing about all these “10 keys” is that they’re all things that we have control over. None of the 10 ideas are “hope for better circumstances” or “make sure that only good things happen in your life”. Instead, they’re all steps that we’re able to take for ourselves.

No matter how wonderful our situation might be at any moment, life will never be perfect. So it’s a really bad idea to do what I was doing before – to rely on circumstances to make me happy. Everyone’s life is a mixture of good and bad things. It’s impossible for us to live a life where nothing bad ever happens. So sooner or later, there were bound to be times where my happiness fell away.

Even if it’s hard to cope when bad things happen, I now know that there are small simple things that I can do, that will help me to deal with life’s storms, and make me feel happier. And for everyone who’s reading this, I hope that somewhere on the Happynesshub, you too find things that help you to live a better and happier life.


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