Check out this new movement for happiness

Check out this new movement for happiness

by Richard Layard for The Observer, Sunday 16 January 2011

Our living standards are unprecedented, but our happiness is no higher than it was 50 years ago. That is the bad news, which reliable surveys reveal. The good news is that happiness depends mainly on the quality of our human relationships and our philosophy of life _ã_ and these can be improved.

In our society there is too much seeking for personal success relative to others. But that is a zero-sum game, where one person’s success implies another’s failure. In a healthy society, we promote the good of others.

That is why we are launching a mass movement called Action for Happiness in 2011 _ã_ a movement for radical cultural change, towards a more caring society based not on the hair shirt but on the well-established neurological finding that those who do things to make others happy become happier themselves.

Members of the movement will make a commitment to try to create more happiness and less unhappiness in the world around them. They will be supported by a website providing inspiration and practical ideas for happier living, drawn from ancient wisdom and modern science. Members will be encouraged to form groups through which, step by step, we hope to change the world for the better. Please join us at

The Chinese tell of two groups of people who were given 4ft-long chopsticks. One group starved because they could not feed themselves. The other flourished, because they learned to feed each other.