Gerry is one of the founders of Dorset’s Happy Café, which was launched on 1 April 2019. It went worldwide online as the Global Happy Café on 1 July 2020 during the pandemic. It now has hundreds of supporters throughout the world. Gerry says, “Our aim is to develop an online fellowship of people from around the world interested in increasing happiness and improving mental health and wellbeing, discovering the Action for Happiness Ten Keys to Happier Living, and discussing the future of society following the coronavirus pandemic.”
Over 200 years ago, the American Declaration of Independence proclaimed: “All men are created equal, they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” It went on to articulate the rights of people and the role of government. Following the global corona virus pandemic, I think it is time to revisit the pursuit of happiness and question the purpose of government.
Most people would agree that the British Government needs to adopt policies that create a fairer society, but I also firmly believe people should be encouraged to co-operate, not compete. Competition is healthy but invariably leads to a winner-takes-all situation. Look at our national game of football for example. Players are paid extraordinary sums by the rich clubs to win. Too much emphasis is on winning at all costs. How often do we witness bad behaviour and cheating amongst players? Wealthy football clubs bloated by broadcast revenue have done little to help other clubs suffering hardship during the coronavirus lockdown. Where is the fairness in that? When winners take all, losers suffer and remain poor. It is time to change the zero-sum game.
Recently, I came across a new board game called Pandemic. Although the name is of interest because of the present Covid situation, it is a board game where players co-operate to beat the global pandemic rather than compete for the most amount of money on the throw of the dice. Players are encouraged to work together and develop a strategy to beat the pandemic. Co-operation is something we should all learn to do in our lives. The big take out is if we do not learn to work together to beat a global pandemic, everyone will suffer.
Already we have seen nations taking action to secure their own stocks of Covid vaccine to the detriment of others. Recently, the European Union sought to prevent the export of the Pfizer vaccine made in the EU to other countries. One might argue this was necessary to protect its own people, but it shows signs of politicians using their power and influence in an altogether reprehensible way. Liz Truss, International Trade Secretary said recently; “It was a mistake by the EU. The way we are going to get through this crisis is by working together.”
Following the Covid lockdown, I believe we should create a new Constitution for Humanity.
Governments should adopt policies to protect life, happiness, and wellbeing amongst all people of the world. Nations around the globe are at last responding to the need to tackle climate change and the United Kingdom’s government is leading the way by hosting the UN Climate Change Conference later this year. Now, having set in motion a campaign to address the most important environmental issue in the world today, we seriously need to consider the future of our society and what sort of lives we want to live in our new environmentally friendly, more sustainable new world?
How can we take steps to increase happiness, improve mental health and wellbeing in our society post pandemic? Here are a couple of ideas:
- Support World Happiness Project and help increase happiness and improve mental health and wellbeing at home, in the community and the workplace across the world.
This can be done through an online Global Happy Cafe that meets once a month with the aim of developing a fellowship of likeminded people interested in learning about practical ways of increasing personal happiness and wellbeing, whilst at the same time discussing the future of society following the coronavirus lockdown.
I am pleased to say we now have hundreds of supporters from all over the world, contributing stories and ideas for increasing happiness from different traditions, cultures, and religions. It is a global network of people determined to make a difference with Happiness Ambassadors representing the UK, Europe, Africa, and Asia as well as North and South America. Visit https://www.world-happiness-project.com/ for more details
- Join the Action for Happiness movement, an international movement of people committed to building a happier and more caring society.
Founded in the United Kingdom in 2010 by Richard Layard and Anthony Seldon, with the Dalai Lama as patron, it encourages people to see a fundamentally different way of life – where we care less about what we can get just for ourselves and more about the happiness of others. The organisation brings together like-minded people from all walks of life and all ages, helping them take practical action, drawing on the latest scientific research, backed by experts from diverse fields including psychology, education, economics, and social innovation. Its aim is to bring together people who believe that things can be better and encourage them to do more to increase the wellbeing of others in society.
Action for Happiness publishes a useful guide to happiness called the Ten keys to happier living or GREAT DREAM. You can download it free at https://www.actionforhappiness.org/10-keys-guidebook. There is also a monthly calendar that gives timely reminders of daily actions we can all take to increase happiness.
On 20 March people across the world will be celebrating the United Nations International Day of Happiness. Originally launched in 2012, it aims to promote happiness as a universal goal and aspiration in the lives of human beings around the world and recognises the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to global economic growth that promotes sustainable development and the eradication of poverty.
Also on 20 March, the annual World Happiness Report is published which surveys the state of global happiness and ranks countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be. This year the survey monitors the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on wellbeing, alongside a range of other behaviours and attitudes, and seeks to understand how populations across the globe are responding to the pandemic.
Last year Finland was judged to be the happiest country in the world, followed by Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway. The United Kingdom was a lowly 13th. It will be interesting to see how people across the UK judge the nations’ happiness following the coronavirus pandemic when compared to other countries around the world.
For further details visit https://www.world-happiness-project.com/happiness-cafe or email gerry@worldhappinessTVproject.org
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