action for happiness

One of the things I wrote about in the early days of JAA was the then just-launched Action for Happiness movement in the UK . I heard this morning, via Twitter, that Action for Happiness is three years old today.

I hadn’t visited the Action for Happiness website for some time so I clicked on today and my eye was drawn to a pie chart and a sentence underneath it (see both below).


‘Although our genes influence about 50% of the variation in our personal happiness, our circumstances (like income and environment) affect only about 10%. As much as 40% is accounted for by our daily activities and the conscious choices we make.’

The idea that we can influence our happiness levels, by what we do, is not new. The science of positive psychology is a mere babe in arms compared to the venerable discipline of philosophy and classical philosophers often spoke about happiness: one of them, Aristotle, said ‘Happiness depends on ourselves.’

There are certain things I do, even though I don’t do them with the primary aim of improving my mood, that I know impact in a good way on my contentment levels – these thing are:

  • Yoga: I try to do, but don’t always succeed in so doing, five or ten minutes practice each day. I find it grounding.
  • Meditation: I used to be rubbish at meditation as my thoughts strayed and the hamster wheel in my head kept on spinning. However I recently discovered this video which demonstrated an easy meditation practice: you breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, breathe out for four counts, and hold for four counts – repeat. And so far so very good as this works for me.
  • Expressing gratitude: I wrote here about keeping a gratitude diary and its positive effects.
  • Walking: especially by the sea, even in the dark! I find it calming.

While I was on Action for Happiness website I looked again at their ten keys for happier living, click here to read the guide. There so much more I could do: for now I think I will try some self-kindness as I am sometimes hard on myself and more importantly I am going to try to improve my kindness levels towards others.

We cannot all be happy all of the time so the Action for Happiness website has a section for those who are weighed down or struggling at the moment, see here.

Happy weekend!


Filed under Musings

19 responses to “Happiness

  1. That pie chart is really interesting, I would have thought the opposite, 10% income etc..would be 50%. It’s a wonderful idea to try to concentrate on this, I have ZERO ability to meditate, never could, talk about a hamster wheel well I have one of those huge hamster cities turning away in my head. Will have to try that breathing thing. The Happiness movement is a wonderful thing.

    • Gosh, my sympathies, I have enough difficulty dealing with the one regular hamster wheel in my head, I cannot imagine what coping with a hamster city is like. πŸ˜‰

      The pie chart is interesting and I am glad we are able to influence forty percent of our happiness levels. The Happiness movement is great and seems to be catching on which has to be good thing πŸ˜‰

  2. What a wonderful testament to the power of positive thinking! I was surprised to see what income was only 10 percent. I guess the saying that money can’t buy happiness it true!

  3. Very interesting. I think I do reasonably well with the GREAT part but DREAM needs some work.

  4. Beside spending time with my family, I think the activity that makes me the happiest is … sleeping (I know I should have said cooking but that would be a lie! πŸ™‚ ) Sleeping is rejuvenating and reinvigorating for me. If I’m well rested, I feel optimistic and I can face anything with a smile on my face.

    • I like sleeping too Francesca. I am grumpy if I miss out on a good night’s sleep. There are a number of things I enjoy doing (incl cooking) but I haven’t given much thought to which of them makes me the happiest, I need to ponder that. πŸ˜‰

  5. I really appreciate this post very much! I’ve looked at the website and your earlier post too. Wonderful information!

  6. It’s amazing how much choice we have in the matter. (and I’m with Francesca, I do believe that naps–or a good night’s long sleep–have plenty to do with the amount of happiness I experience in a given day).

  7. I shall be popping back to this post and exploring the links – really useful, thank you. I shall definitely give the breathing exercise a go as life is very busy and very stressful at the moment!

  8. Such an interesting post…I guess the old saying that “you can’t buy happiness” is pretty relevant after all. πŸ™‚

  9. What an interesting look at happiness and an appropriate conclusion that our happiness lies in our own hands:) Beautiful picture too…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s