Need a lift? Get on course for hap­pi­ness

Eight-week course will give lessons in hap­pi­ness

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - chris.fraser@7days.ae

The ap­point­ment of Ohoud Al Roumi as UAE Min­is­ter of Hap­pi­ness ear­lier this year made global head­lines. Although the bold ap­point­ment came out of the blue, the UAE is not alone in look­ing for a new ap­proach in our mod­ern world.

The United Na­tions has also been cel­e­brat­ing World Day for Hap­pi­ness (March 20) since 2013, in a bid to cre­ate a more pos­i­tive world.

And there’s a move­ment hap­pen­ing at grass­roots level too.

A new eight-week course get­ting un­der way in Dubai next week, aims to help res­i­dents dis­cover how to live a hap­pier and kin­der life.

The course, called Ex­plor­ing What Mat­ters, has been de­vel­oped by Ac­tion for Hap­pi­ness, a UKbased move­ment that launched in 2011 and uses a science-based ap­proach to cre­ate a hap­pier world.

More than 1,500 vol­un­teers have al­ready put them­selves for­ward to run the course around the UK and else­where, and par­tic­i­pants have re­ported in­creases in lev­els of life sat­is­fac­tion, men­tal well­be­ing, com­pas­sion and so­cial trust.

Lisa Harter is run­ning the course along with Aida Laubach at the Illuminations Well­be­ing Cen­tre in JLT. She ex­plains: “Of­ten if you ask peo­ple what they want from life, they say they want to be happy. It is a term that is thrown around a lot but I don’t think ev­ery­one un­der­stands what it is.

“Part of this course is to un­der­stand what we mean by the con­cept of hap­pi­ness, and what con­trib­utes to this feel­ing and sense of well­be­ing. We will be tap­ping into sci­en­tific re­search into the topic of well­be­ing and sense of hap­pi­ness.”

There may be scep­tics out there who want to pour scorn on a course de­signed to help us live a kin­der and hap­pier life. But they might want to take note of the fas­ci­nat­ing find­ings un­cov­ered last year in a com­pre­hen­sive 75-year study car­ried out by Har­vard. The sur­vey, which be­gan way back in 1938 and fol­lowed 268 Har­vard un­der­grad­u­ate men from all walks of life, found that mean­ing­ful re­la­tion­ships, con­nec­tions and love re­ally counted, while more money and more power didn’t re­late to more hap­pi­ness.

More im­por­tantly, the study found that it is never too late to change.

The eight-week course in­cludes Ted talks, dis­cus­sion and ex­er­cises to help in­di­vid­u­als grow and learn. Lisa says: “They say that when we over re­flect on the past, it can take us down and cre­ate a sense of de­pres­sion. When our minds race ahead of us, that’s when we can cre­ate anx­i­ety over some­thing that hasn’t taken place.

“Ev­ery­thing that hap­pens with the in­di­vid­ual gets re­flected into the out­side world. So if we are un­happy within our­selves, we will be un­happy within re­la­tion­ships and that will have a knock-on ef­fect with work and the world at large. We want to find ac­tions we can take away and put into prac­tice. We can learn things but if we read a book and put it down and don’t take any­thing into our daily lives it is not go­ing to serve us.”

Ev­ery­thing that hap­pens with the in­di­vid­ual gets re­flected into the out­side world. – Life coach Lisa Harter

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