How to be happy – an introduction to THE HAPPINESS COURSE Everyone wants to be happy! But….what exactly is happiness, and what enables us to grow in it?
Is happiness really what we should aim for, or does it come as a by-product of something deeper? Some people seem naturally happy; others are apparently programmed to be grumpy! So is there any point trying to change? What affects our wellbeing and can we bring any change at all?
These (and many other) questions are explored in “The Happiness course”. It comes in four sessions... 1. A Happy life: what makes us happy, and can we get happier? 2. A Successful life: what exactly constitutes a ‘Good Life’? How can we discover it? 3. A Relational life: are relationships important? Why (not)? 4. A Meaningful life: can we know purpose and meaning, and do they matter?
The course takes people on a journey from the starting point of "what makes you happy?” and "what is happiness anyway?", through issues of a “successful life” and the importance of relationships, on to deeper questions about the meaning of life! Using a number of source materials, including a relatively recent branch of psychology, called Positive Psychology the course is fashioned around the 3 levels of wellbeing or happiness..... Pleasure: material, senses Engagement: job, relationships Meaning: something bigger than these other things....
There are several dimensions to the course. First, there is learning: information is given about happiness and well-being, both personal and societal. However, the more important aim is to guide the participants in their own journey. This is the second aspect: how is your own well-being and how can it grow? There is also a community component. Even though participants spend just four sessions together, a rapport quickly builds and many find themselves sharing at quite a deep level as time goes by. Finally there is a longer-term dimension. The course is just a beginning for those who want to start the journey into happiness and wellbeing. But most people find plenty to reflect and work on in the course, and often come back for the follow-up course. See what you think!
What people say about “The How of Happiness” “It has changed my life” “Great – a fascinating, interesting, informative, meaningful course. It gave me more light and direction” “It has opened my eyes to things which I never thought of as consistent with happiness before” “It was very deep and got me thinking a lot about future decisions. Thank you!” “Really opened my eyes to think about certain aspects of life” “I will be more aware of my personal choices and will try to concentrate more on making the difference. Thanks for making me feel welcome” “I believe this course would help people who are depressed” “It will make a great difference to know who I am and realize the choices that I make for my own life and other people” “It made a very big difference. I’ll think more carefully about the decisions that I make and I’ll always keep in mind how these decisions can affect others”
Sources for the course 1. Biblical/theological The foundations are biblical. However, they are not explicitly expressed as such, since the course aims to engage with people of all backgrounds, of different faiths or no faith. This is appropriate, since God has made all people to live and function in ordered and healthy ways, no matter what their worldview might be. For example, living healthily physically involves treating your body with respect; and mental health involves healthy relationships, having goals and a sense of purpose and direction. 2. Secular/research Modern psychological research (especially through the recently developed Positive Psychology) has provided remarkable confirmation of much biblical teaching. For example, research has shown that performing â€˜random acts of kindnessâ€™, expressing gratitude, forgiving those who have hurt you, and nurturing strong and generous relationships all result in demonstrable improvement in wellbeing. Much research then (including that on the relationship between religious faith and wellbeing) confirms what most Christians have taken as fundamental, through their reading of their Bibles! The course therefore utilises research findings of recent years, in psychology and other disciplines. 3. Life experience This information is all very well, but if it does not translate into real life, it remains at the level of theory and head knowledge. Practical and reflective exercises, helping participants to work out the teaching in their everyday lives, therefore lie at the heart of the course.
These three dimensions come together in the course, and can be expressed in the following diagram:
THE TREE OF LIFE [THE WELL-BEING/HAPPINESS TREE]