If you are happy and you know it…

Yesterday the Office of National Statistics released its findings as part of the inaugural subjective wellbeing survey commissioned by David Cameron in an attempt to chart the nation’s happiness alongside economic data such as GDP.

Whilst you may disagree with its subjectiveness, cost of £2m a year and view it as being “candy floss – sweet but insubstantial”, there is no escaping that the subject of happiness has been gaining momentum over the past decade.

Highlights from the survey shows that being employed, older, in good health and the further you are from London, the greater your levels of wellbeing and satisfaction. Unsurprisingly, those who run companies such as directors and managers ranked themselves lower than those in professional occupations such as doctors and teachers.

Earlier research on happiness indicates that:

  • Money doesn’t buy happiness – increased income has a very small correlation with happiness for most people (except those who live in the conditions of poverty, in which money can help provide basic necessities)
  • It’s the journey of progressing towards our goals rather than achieving the goal itself that makes us happy
  • Commuting in slow traffic to work is reported as one of the most unpleasant activities of the day
  • Increased time with family and friends makes you happier
  • When you are so engaged in what you are doing you lose track of time. Being in the ‘flow’ or ‘zone’ makes you happy                                                    

So what does us happy? We are all different and there are many routes to happiness. The trick is to find what makes you happy and to do more of it!

This made me reflect on what do I do to sustain my happiness? I came up with :

  1. Frequent and conistent time with family and friends – usually over food and drink
  2. Running outdoors and getting that sense of connection to something bigger
  3. Keeping my eyes, ears and heart open to the wonders around me
  4. Making a difference to my family, friends, community and clients
  5. Learning, staying curious and expanding my worldview

I came across this clip of  88-year-old Bermudian Johnny Barnes who stands on a roundabout every weekday from 4 – 10 am. It makes him happy, gives him purpose and gives others joy. Watch it and don’t ask why but why not?

What helps you to flourish? What are the top 5 things that you do repeatedly that makes you happy?

Love to hear from you

Follow me on Twitter @verawoodhead      Work with me 


About verawoodhead

I'm an executive coach, leadership facilitator and learning & development consultant working with managers and leaders to develop the skills and behaviours to inspire performance and drive results; achieve promotion ; make successful career changes, be resilient and thrive at work. Within organisations, I help to facilitate better conversations, design learning interventions which deliver practical and lasting solutions aligned to business strategy and goals. Connect with me on Twitter @verawoodhead
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12 Responses to If you are happy and you know it…

  1. I loved Oliver James’s book Affluenza about how people make the mistake of equating money with happiness. As you say, as long as you have enough to cover the basics plus a few treats, he found that additional money doesn’t increase happiness, in fact the most unhappy people he met, across many countries of the world, were the very weathly.

  2. My top 5 for happiness:
    1) Spending quality time with my partner
    2) Getting out in the hills with Brett and my dog Ziggy – especially Cumbria – fresh air and exercise can not be beaten
    3) Sitting down to a home cooked meal with great friends and a good bottle of red
    4) Getting great feedback from my coaching clients
    5) Taking time out from my day to think about whats great in life
    Thanks Vera once again for making me take the time to think about whats great in my life. Its oh so easy to get wrapped up in what isn’t working so well.

  3. Andrew Rea - The Ten Minute Trainer says:

    I was really pleased to hear this news yesterday – and I believe that happiness is contagious (so I’m always happy to share mine!!)
    Five of the things that I do every day are:
    1) Get outside into the fresh air – even if its only for ten minutes
    2) Tell myself I’m happy, I actually feel the happiness as I’m saying it!
    3) Phone my Mum – she’s 89 and a real inspiration (and I’m so looking forward to today’s call as she is going to see her new 6-day old great grandaughter for the first time today, so I know she’ll be radiating happiness down the phone!)
    4) Give myself a treat
    5) Say “how interesting!” about at least one thing.

    • verawoodhead says:

      Thank you Andrew for sharing your top 5. Agree with you that happiness is contagious. I am inspired that you you do these everyday especially no.3. My mum lives in South America and although I think of her everyday I don’t ring her everyday or week. This is something that I need to actively get better at and commit to.

  4. Jamie says:

    Vera, to your great list I would add – getting a good night’s sleep! Thanks for sharing another thoughtful post.

  5. janbrause says:

    Love this blog Vera and the video clip. If we all shared a tenth of the happiness and love that Johnny spreads, how wonderful would that be?
    My top 5
    1. Quality time with my husband (especially when he is cooking..yummmmy!)
    2. Getting out on the hills walking in the fresh air
    3. Catching up with close friends and family
    4. My work, which includes my love of learning (I am constantly humbled and privileged to do the work I do)
    5. Allowing myself to become completely absorbed in a wonderful novel
    Thank you for stimulating happy thougths!

    • verawoodhead says:

      Glad you liked the clip, Jan. It did bring a tear to my eye when I watched it as it reminded me of my own grandad. I love your no.1 – having a meal cooked for you and sharing it with someone special. Bliss.

  6. Jane Bytheway says:

    Hi Vera
    Great article on a subject very close to my heart 🙂 LOVE Mr Happy Man – very moving.
    Here’s my top 5:
    1. Quality time to connect with my 17-year old son – often over a meal when all technological distractions are in abeyance!
    2. Daily hugs (with my son and others) – it’s hard to beat that inner glow that comes from feeling the love in someone’s arms around you
    3. Sharing and developing ideas with others – can be close family and friends or people I’ve just met … I love to feel that spark that comes from connection
    4. Reflecting on the day and writing down the things I’m grateful for. Even when things are tough, there’s always something I can find to feel good about
    5. Doing something physical – I love dancing, so my current exercise of choice is zumba – it makes me glow inside and out!
    Have a great day
    Jane 🙂

    • verawoodhead says:

      Hi Jane, thank you for stopping by and sharing your top 5. I can feel the energy, positivity and happiness that is in abundance in your post.
      Love your ‘glow inside and out’ – long may it continue.
      Sending you a hug. Vera

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