On my last blog, I suggested that when it comes to happiness, we’ve got it all wrong. Being a practical individual, I am always thinking about the transition from the “why” and the “what” to the “how”. After all, I totally get wanting to be happy, to be aware, to have gratitude, to follow my bliss. What I desperately need to know is “how” to do this.

Around 10 years ago, the UK’s Government Office for Science prepared a report entitled Mental Capital and Wellbeing: Making the most of ourselves in the 21st Century, and while the focus is not on happiness per se, it is fair to say that how happy we feel with ourselves, has a great impact on our mental wellbeing.

One of the objectives of this report was to arrive at a set of evidence-based actions to improve personal wellbeing. The New Economics Foundation, focused on this part of the project and they noted that the concept of wellbeing covers two key elements: feeling good and functioning well. Reading this report, I could not help but think that NEF had found the “how” to happiness (or awareness, or wellness, or bliss, or whatever you choose to call it).

Based on the evidence, the suggestions for individual action are:

  1. Connect… With the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. At home, work, school or in your local community. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.
  2. Be active… Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance. Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness.
  3. Take notice… Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are walking to work, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.
  4. Keep learning… Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Take on a different responsibility at work. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun.
  5. Give … Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, as linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.

I read these suggestions several years ago and I just had to write them down in my notebook. And whenever I change notebooks, I rewrite them down, right underneath my name.

And I find that they work. They have become my “how”. Each one of these is an integral part of my day. Yes, some days I may do less of one or two of them, but they have become part of who I am. Which is why I think I am very happy/aware/well/blissful/whatever you want to call.

You got your “why” and your “what”, all you have to do now is try this “how”. Let me know how you go.