There are a lot of people making claims to know the secret to lasting happiness, from Oprah Winfrey and her various gurus to Deepak Chopra. Now, Reuters reports (“Switch off, chip in, be happy, say activists” by Olesya Dmitracova) that a new “global movement for happiness” — Action for Happiness, apparently endorsed by the Dalai Lama and British Psychological Society — is on the scene and has decided to weigh in. Their advice, they say, is based on hard science. So what was it?
1. Elect your boss
2. Put down your smart phone once in a while
3. Give to charity
4. Focus more on collectivism and less on individualism
5. Don’t get caught up in the pursuit of material wealth
6. Meditate and exercise
7. Organize a street party
8. Nurture your relationships
Action for Happiness says that the main external factor affecting an individual’s happiness is the quality of their relationships in all areas of their life; the main internal factor is underlying mental health. Dmitracova also writes that both France and Britain are looking into enhancing measures of satisfaction to gauge whether their citizens are getting more or less happy.
While I can’t say that many of these items are really news to me — family’s important, money doesn’t really matter once you’ve met your needs, make sure to hit the treadmill for both physical and mental health, blah blah blah — I do like how specific and focused some of these directives are. Electing your boss, turning off your cell phone and organizing a street party make you happier? These things all make sense to me, even if the street party one is a little odd. I would love to see more quirky and specific results from all of the happiness research that’s being conducted. And now I have to go plan a street party.