The Happiness Project London Rules

This blog starts with a simple premise.  That we have all chosen to live in London because London is a bloody great place to live.  I sometimes get annoyed at the little things – getting squashed in the tube, the fact that everyone’s so busy, the level of organisation needed to get a group of friends together.  But I want to appreciate the great stuff -  the bars, restaurants, plays, exhibitions, galleries, parks, that make London the exciting, liberating, open-minded place that it is. 

But then a visit to Turkey during Ramadan last year made me realise that in a largely atheist society, many Londoners don’t do much for other people.  I started thinking that life in London can be pretty selfish – we earn money and then go out and spend it doing nice things – and I wasn’t sure how fulfilling this life can be.  So the second premise takes from it some rules that I have pinched from clever scientists who have devised ways to be happy, ways that bring something a little more spiritual and selfless into our everyday existence.

So my rules are this:

  1. BE ACTIVE - Makes you feel good and gets you fit.  I’m going to do 1/2 hour exercise 3 times a week (swimming, yoga, gym and cycling) and try at least 1 new class a month (sadly lacking of late – but planning to do some dance classes soon).
  2. CONNECT - Developing relationships with friends, family, colleagues and neighbours will enrich your life and bring you support.  I try to spend at least 1 hour a week in conversation with someone I love – either in a nice bar or restaurant, over lunch of coffee, or by turning the TV off and eating dinner at the table.   I’m also going to try at least 1 new restaurant or bar a month.
  3. GIVE - Helping friends and strangers links your happiness to the wider world and is very rewarding.  I’m trying to do at least 1 small act of kindness per day and 1 act of charity/volunteering per month. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming – bake a cake for a friend, help someone move house, smile at a stranger.
  4. NURTURE – Help something to grow.  I’ve planted herbs in my little garden which I’ll watch grow and I’m re-decorating my little flat. Or you could teach someone how to play chess or guitar.
  5. LEARN -  The challenge and satisfaction brings you confidence. I’m planning to go to at least 1 class, talk, gig, gallery or exhibition that teaches me something new every month.  I recently did a Spanish course at International House and attended a lecture at the School of Life, but I’d like to do ad hoc courses and talks and exhibitions as well.
  6. BE CURIOUS - Noting the beauty of our everyday life as well as the unusual, and reflecting on them, helps you appreciate your world and makes you realise what matters to you. We all know money can’t buy happiness, right? But savouring time, cherishing what we love, can – reading books in a dusty bookshop and buying your favourite, wandering round a market and buying something delicious for dinner. I’m going to make myself look around and appreciate the small things. Pretty hard at rush hour on the Northen Line but I can always try. I’m finding carrying a notebook and a camera, and writing this blog, really helps.

So, I will report back on what I find out – about London, thing to do, places to go.  But maybe more importantly I want to find out whether in this hedonistic society I can become more happy just by sticking to these rules.

And I challenge you to do the same!

UPDATE: Find out about how I’m getting on following the rules here.

UPDATE: Having rediscovered the Making Slough Happy rules, I’m trying to remember these additional things too:

  • Count at least 5 blessings per day
  • Phone a long-lost friend and arrange to meet up
  • Give yourself one treat a day and really enjoy it
  • Have a good laugh at least once a day
  • Smile/say hello to a stranger once a day
  • Cut TV viewing in half

UPDATE 8.02.11 – Having been to a brilliant talk at the School of Life, I realise that my happiness rules are missing something fundamental – the rules of the inner mind. You can read my post on this here.

41 responses to “The Happiness Project London Rules

  1. 1. Make up your mind to be happy. Learn to find pleasure in simple things.
    2. Make the best of your circumstances. No one has everthing and everyone has something of sorrow intermingled with the gladness of life. The trick is to make the laughter outweigh the tears.
    3. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t think that somehow you should be protected from misfortunes that befall others.
    4. You can’t please everybody. Don’t let criticism worry you.
    5. Don’t let your neighbour set your standards. Be yourself.
    6. Do the things you enjoy doing but stay out of debt.
    7. Don’t borrow trouble. Imaginary things are harder to bear than the actual ones.
    8. Since hate poisons the soul, do not cherish enmities, grudges. Avoid people who make you unhappy.
    9. Have many interests . If you can’t ravel, read about new places.
    10. Don’r hold post mortems. Don’t spend your life brooding over sorrows and mistakes. Don’t be one who never gets over things.
    11. Do what you can for those less fortunate than yourself.
    12. Keep busy at something. A very busy person never has time to be unhappy.

    Robert Louis Stevenson 1850-94.

  2. Love your list. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately! We need a happiness event!

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  5. Love your list, so positive and re-assuring. Great idea to have links on volunteering opportunities and cultural events in London. This is a great blog.

    Luiz @ The London Foodie

  6. Have only just discovered you, but love it! Keep them coming. Seems we share some foodie tastes!

    • Only just seen this to reply – sorry. Thanks very much for the compliment, delighted you like it! Loving your blog too, am also partial to a martini!

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  13. This is a great post. London would be a much happier place if most people followed at least some of these rules! I also believe Londoners would be happier if they made little extra effort to make new friends in London. I wrote a blog post on how to make new friends in London.

    http://new2london.net/blog.aspx?title=make-new-friends-in-london-top-10-tips

    I hope you find it useful!

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  17. Hello friend,
    I have enjoyed your photos. May I use some of them for classrooom visuals as I teach at a private university in the U.S.?
    Thank you for your consideration.
    Steven Eike

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  27. I’m so glad to have found your blog, recently I’ve been questioning myself about happiness and the things that I want to do, show, learn, give etc.. I read other blogs that are linked to your site and is just so nice to realize that there are more people outside that wants and enjoy a happier world . :0) Great blog!

  28. Hi. I just stumbled across you’re blog and wanted to say that I think it’s lovely. Well done!

  29. aww, lovely blog :)

  30. cheered me up on a saturday night in, there is more to life than searching for a boyfriend!

  31. We’re studying this at school, and I’ll try to follow your rules. Thank you! :)

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  34. It’s a dreary day in London today and I stumbled upon your blog – I’m so happy I did! Great rules for living, I’m already working out how to smush them into my own life :)

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