Real Happiness in Scotland
People who see themselves as being happy often also see Meaning in their life and this has led experts to conclude that if you want to be Happy you need to find some Meaning!
Not afraid of a challenge, the Happiness Club in Glasgow tackled this thorny problem at last week’s meet-up in Sloans Pub, the oldest in the city, where they hold their monthly meetings.
‘But we don’t just talk about Happiness and Meaning’ says the founder and facilitator Kim Macleod, we also do stuff, so that people have some tools to take away with them which will help them to improve the level of Meaning in their lives, and their Happiness too, hopefully!’
Kim, a qualified therapist with years of experience and runs her own consultancy called Stress The Positive, but she has also confronted every parent’s worst fear after losing her 12-year-old Calum to meningitis in 2007. ‘My world was plunged into darkness’ she recalls, and ‘it was many months before I was able to start bringing my knowledge of positive psychology to bear on my own situation.’
‘In those situations, you can’t even get out of bed, let alone get outdoors and do the things that the experts tell you will make you feel better’. But Kim knew that unless she did something, her family would be unable to move on, ‘I was determined to help my family pick up the pieces and to live a happy life in honour of my son.’
Gradually, things started to get better and she was able to use her therapist’s knowledge to get through those dark times. Then in 2011 Kim learnt about the then new Action for Happiness movement and decided the time was finally right to launch The Happiness Club and to share her techniques with the rest of Scotland.
‘When people are depressed, it’s almost like the light goes out behind their eyes, you look at them and there’s just no life there, and I love it when you see somebody suddenly get that light just switch on and they get enthusiastic and excited about something.’
‘Last week we used the 14 focal areas identified by Gary Reker as those which give life Meaning, and looked at how each person could build up those areas’.
They include areas such as work, a social life, ambitions, activities or hobbies or family, beliefs and values, ones which Leo Bormans describes in The World Book of Happiness. ‘I pack a lot of content into two hours, a lot of happiness I hope for a very small amount of money!’ says Kim.
In November 2012, with meetings well-attended, Kim went one step further and launched Scotland’s first Happiness Day on the day before Remembrance Sunday, a conference day with speakers, workshops and hands on sessions held at the SENSE Scotland’s headquarters in Glasgow.
It’s a time that is tinged with sadness for many, as the nation mourns and remembers the fallen, and as Kim’s own family remembers Calum and also her mother-in-law who was tragically killed on Remembrance Day 17 years ago. On top of that, the nights are getting darker and there is a long Scottish winter ahead. But Kim was not deterred, ‘I have the attitude that if no one else is going to do something, then to hell with it, I will!’ she says, and laughs at her own gung-ho spirit.
‘I told people this is about real life happiness. You can have difficult times in your life but it doesn’t mean that you have to be miserable. Focussing on how you can feel happier can really help you and it can help everyone round about you,’
After a morning where delegates listened to speakers including Paul Adnitt from Action for Happiness and Margaret McCathie who specialises in laughter therapy, delegates were offered a range of afternoon workshops including colour therapy, mediation and a workshop based around the ideas of Susan Jefferies, author of ‘Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway.’
The day ended with a feel-good bang – singing and dancing otherwise known as Happy-Oke. ‘People came away feeling as though they had had a really good night out!’ Kim recalls. But they also went home with an inspirational book, as each person was able to bring a book that had inspired them and which they then swapped with someone else.
Next year, she hopes that the Happiness message will be repeated around Scotland as existing social groups embrace the philosophy by adding a new activity or a shared act of kindness to their existing programme to make an all-round Happiness Day.
For more info see www.stressthepositive.co.uk