International Day of Happiness Post: The Great Dream

On a rainy afternoon a good few months ago now I decided to put my marking to one side and instead attend a lecture given by Peter Harper from Action for Happiness.

The talk was entitled 10 keys for Happier Living and centred around the fairly new field of positive psychology.  I also really liked that mindfulness was at the core of many of the points he raised and so drafted a blog post.  A blog post which, for some reason, I never published.

And then a quick perusal of Twitter earlier today informed me that it is ‘International Day of Happiness’ today.  This gave me the impetus I needed to finish off this post. And so here are the consultant clinical psychologist’s ‘whistle-stop’ tour of the top 10 tips for happier living – easily remembered as the ‘great dream’.


  1. G is for giving – it is good to be reminded that scientific research is making a clear link between generosity and happiness.  And, as Harper pointed out, it’s not just about money either.  Time, kind words, thoughtful gestures and smiles are also seen as beneficial to both parties.  Volunteering is believed to be an excellent way to boost mood.
  2. R is for relating – another great reminder that the connection we make with others is key to our happiness.  Harper said:  “we underestimate the power of listening to people, encouraging them, valuing them and thanking them.”
  3. E is for exercising – as we are all aware exercise fights everything from “diabetes to depression”.
  4. A is for appreciation – activities like keeping a gratitude log or having a gratitude jar – basically getting ourselves into the habit of recording small, specific moments of pleasure in our days – have been shown to prolong the pleasure and therefore help our happiness levels.
  5. T is for trying out – it is being shown more and more that ‘life-long learning’ helps people to remain positive.
  6. D is for direction – realistic goal-setting (or maybe the more mindful phrase of setting intentions) can help people’s happiness.  Questions like:  where do I want to be in 3 months?  1 year? 5 years? can be extremely motivating.
  7. R is for resilience – Harper recommended reading Mandy Oaklander’s ‘The Science of Bouncing Back’.  Resilent people tend to be happier. Their strength comes from within, rather than seeking approval from others.  Also, resilient people see setbacks as opportunities rather than an obstacles.  The realisation, as Ernest Hemingway puts it in A Farewell to Arms that “the world breaks everyone, and afterwards many are strong in the broken places…” is strangely comforting.
  8. E is for emotion – understanding that, as Harper put it, “emotions are more contagious than a virus” helps us to observe our own feelings and the emotions of people around us, and then to make choices about how to behave as a result.  Trying to ‘tap into’ our own and others’ positive emotions is really important for happiness.  Essentially it is about surrounding ourselves more with ‘radiators’ than ‘drains’.  It’s also about considering whether we are more of a ‘radiator’ or a ‘drain’ too!
  9. A is for acceptance – the quote “don’t compare your insides with other people’s outsides…” sums this up nicely.
  10. M is for meaning – Harper encouraged everyone to find their purpose in life.  Ask yourself:  what are we a part of that is bigger than ourselves?

I remember leaving the talk with a ‘spring in my step’ and also some homework.  We were to mark ourselves out of 10 for each of the 10 ‘keys’ and then focus some time on increasing the two or three lower scores.

I remember ranking numbers 2, 4 and 8 as my top scores (relating, appreciation and emotion).  This is unsurprising really as they most link to mindfulness.

I ranked 6 and 7 as my lowest scores – direction and resilience.  Looking back I have definitely worked on having greater direction in my life over the last few months – the blog and mindfulness courses are evidence of this.  As for building my resilience…. well that’s still work in progress…but I think I’m definitely making some improvements.

What about you?  Which areas of the ‘keys to happiness’ are your strengths?

Which ‘keys’ may  you wish to work on in the next few weeks and months?

I’d love to know. xx


Two Tiny Hands

Diary of an imperfect mum


  1. March 20, 2017 / 9:37 pm

    I really like this analogy. I’m working on lots of these but I think my key ones are resilience at work and awareness through mindfulness. Thanks for sharing, Jo x

  2. twotinyhands
    March 22, 2017 / 3:59 pm

    Appreciation and trying out are quite high up on my list! Exercise however small and getting out side are a must too as it makes me feel better about myself. Happy happiness day! ‪Thank you for linking up to the #familyfunlinky‬

    • March 22, 2017 / 7:57 pm

      I totally agree about exercise – it is a must for me too – both for the positive physical and mental impact it has. Thank you for sharing your thoughts xx

  3. amindfulgeek
    March 22, 2017 / 4:01 pm

    This is a wonderful list. Not only will it lead to more happiness in your life but it will also be GOOD for your body! I think too many people forget that your health has a lot to do with the amount of happiness that you have in every day. Great job! #familyfunlinky

  4. March 22, 2017 / 9:07 pm

    Oh I love this! I’m pretty good at appreciation and I’ve been working on acceptance, exercise is virtually non-existent though!

  5. March 23, 2017 / 6:52 am

    I love this. I thin acceptance is the hardest one for me. I know I would be much happier if I could do it. #ablogginggoodtime

  6. March 24, 2017 / 9:09 pm

    I need to work on the acceptance part. Great post! Exercise and charity always make me feel good!

    • March 25, 2017 / 8:38 pm

      So many people are saying the same about acceptance! We need to be kinder on ourselves :-). Thanks for commenting. xx

  7. susielhawes
    March 29, 2017 / 4:19 pm

    So interesting! I definitely need to work on the resilience, but I have just been in touch with Age UK about doing some volunteering so that’s something! #Ablogginggoodtime

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