Action for Happiness

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Action for Happiness
Founded2010 (2010)
Founded atLondon, England
Dr Mark Williamson

Action for Happiness (AfH) is a charity based in the United Kingdom.[1] It aims to increase the happiness in the world by bringing together like-minded people from all walks of life and supporting them to take practical action to build a happier and more caring society, drawing on the latest scientific research.[2] The patron of Action for Happiness is the Dalai Lama. The charity has over 175,000 members in 180 countries [3] and over 1,000,000 subscribers on facebook.

Formation[edit source | edit]

AfH was co-founded in 2010 by Richard Layard (Director of the Wellbeing Programme at the Centre for Economic Performance and Emeritus Professor of Economics at LSE), Sir Anthony Seldon (Historian and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham), Geoff Mulgan (CEO of Nesta and former CEO of the Young Foundation) and Dr Mark Williamson (who has been its Director since the start).

AfH was originally created and incubated within The Young Foundation,[2] before becoming an independent registered charity in January 2018.

Definition of Happiness[edit source | edit]

Poster from Action for Happiness on "Ten keys to happier living"

AfH states that "Happiness means feeling good about our lives and wanting to go on feeling that way. Unhappiness means feeling bad and wanting things to change."[4] Thus AfH tends towards a subjective well-being definition of happiness.

AfH supports people to understand that everybody has an inner world and mental health, and that everybody can choose to take action to look after their mental health, in good times as well as bad times. Just like choosing to look after our physical health by exercising and eating good food, you can look after your mind by developing skills to be happy.

AfH Keys to Happier Living[edit source | edit]

AfH promotes 10 Keys to Happier Living[5] which were created by Action for Happiness, led by Vanessa King, and are based on the latest research in positive psychology, neuroscience, behavioral economics and biology. Their research evidence suggests these Ten Keys are areas which are in the influence of the individual and consistently tend to have a positive impact on people's happiness and well-being. They are spelled out GREAT DREAM. The first five keys (GREAT) are about the interaction with the outside world. They are based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing developed the Foresight Project on Mental Capital and Wellbeing.[6] The second five keys (DREAM) relate to the inner world and the person's attitude to life.

Activities and Products[edit source | edit]

AfH activities include running 8-week "Exploring What Matters" courses, which have been organized by volunteers at 250 places around the world and have been "wholeheartedly supported" by the Dalai Lama.[7] AfH produces monthly calendars of actions that people can take that may improve their happiness. These calendars have been downloaded by 2.5 million people in 2018.[8] These daily actions are also available via the Action for Happiness app. AfH coordinates a network of "Happy Cafes"[9] across the UK and around the world. Happy Cafes are "a friendly and welcoming place to meet other people with a shared interest in promoting happiness and wellbeing.".[10] AfH runs monthly events in London with expert speakers presenting on themes related to happiness.[11]

Board and Expert Advisors[edit source | edit]

The AfH board includes Richard Layard, and the AfH expert advisory group includes Daniel Kahneman and Martin Seligman.[12]

Local and National Groups[edit source | edit]

There are local groups and hubs in many countries. In Australia, Italy and Germany, there are national groups that are legal entities in their countries.

Reaction and Criticism[edit source | edit]

AfH has been praised in The Guardian as reclaiming happiness from capitalism by helping people to seize the means of the production of wellbeing arguing for "a new science of happiness that focuses on social behaviour and personal relationships, rather than material possessions and outward appearance."[13]

AfH has also been criticised in The Guardian for pursuing an individual approach to happiness, rather than focusing on societal negative issues such as inequality.[14]

The Telegraph featured AfH in 2016, including an interview with Dr Mark Williamson. Regarding the increasing number of people being in treatment with mental illnesses, Williamson said "What we believe is that you can help people develop better habits before that happens. We’ve got the beginnings now of a culture in preventative approaches to physical health problems, with anti-smoking and obesity drives. I think the next 20 years is going to be about massively proactive ways to look after your mental health and your social and emotional well-being, and to really think about what happiness means and how it can be achieved."[15]

Journalist Janet Street-Porter attended the AfH 8 week Exploring What Matters course in 2015, she said "I've really enjoyed the company of these strangers - which is a first. I heartily recommend the course if you're feeling lonely or miserable."[16]

References[edit source | edit]

  1. "Action For Happiness". Charity Commission. Registered Charity (1175160) and Company Limited by Guarantee (10722435) in England and Wales.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "About Us". Action for Happines.
  3. "Let's take action for a happier world". Action for Happiness. Retrieved 2020-02-19.
  5. Williamson, Mark; King, Vanessa (2014-11-03). "Ten easy steps to happier living". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-05-08.
  6. "Mental Capital and Wellbeing Foresight Report". UK Government. Retrieved 20 June 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. Easton, Mark (21 September 2015). "Evening classes that promise to make you happy" – via
  8. "Action for Happiness Achievments 2018". 7 January 2019.
  9. "Action for Happiness' Happy Cafes spread positivity around the UK". Positive News. 2015-05-12. Retrieved 2019-05-08.
  10. "Happy Cafe Network". Action for Happiness. Retrieved 2019-05-08.
  11. "Action for Happiness". Eventbrite. Retrieved 2019-05-08.
  12. "Expert Advisory Group". Action for Happiness.
  14. Harper, David (21 February 2012). "The sad truth about the Action for Happiness movement". the Guardian.

External links[edit source | edit]

Visibility[edit source | edit]

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