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Surprising Science

The Simple Path to Happiness

Two English professors have created the Action for Happiness movement which, by following a simple list of activities, aims to increase the amount of happiness in the lives of individuals. 

What’s the Latest Development?

London School of Economics professors Richard Layard and Dr. Anthony Seldon want to create positive social change by making people a little happier. They theorize that with a little bit of work, we can make big differences by doing small things. “Doing kind things for others strengthens our connection with them and builds trust—particularly with strangers—leading to happier communities. The acts can be large or small, but must be beyond the things you do regularly.” Being thankful for what you have and meditating are two other activities they recommend. 

What’s the Big Idea?

According to Action for Happiness, the association created by Layard and Seldon, positive emotion is not something that happens to us. Rather, happiness is something that results from actions we ourselves take. Being grateful for the small things in life is one way to generate positive feelings: “[Being grateful] helps us to reframe our perceptions of how our day is going,” says Action for Happiness’s director, Mark Williamson. “It’s not about ignoring bad things, but asking, did anything good happen today? You can usually find something.”


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