Smiley Movement logo

Action For Happiness Help People Live A Happier Life

Words by Smiley Team



Vanessa King, Head of Psychology and Workplaces at Action for Happiness and author of The 10 Keys To Happier Living sat down with us to talk about the organisation, positive psychology and how we can all lead happier and healthier lives.


Can you tell us a little bit about how Action for Happiness got started?

"Initially we were founded by Professor Lord Richard Layard, an economist with an interest in happiness and the science of wellbeing. His book ‘Happiness: Lessons From New Science’ was released in 2005, around the same time that positive psychology emerged as a practice.

"Since then Action for Happiness has become a world-wide social movement and a charity and we take evidence based ideas and share them in ways that enabled people to take action, make a difference for their own wellbeing, for the wellbeing of people around them and in their communities, schools and workplaces. ”

So why is happiness so important?

“There is a growing body of evidence that shows that both causally and correlational that there are benefits that come from feeling happier. We know that if you are happier you have higher life satisfaction, you’re likely to by physically healthy and fit, you’re less likely to have heart disease and less likely to catch colds.

"And in organisations, we know that happier employees can be more productive, doctors that are happier make faster, more accurate diagnoses. Organisations that pay attention to happiness outperform their stock market peers. And in wider society we know that happier people are less likely to engage in risky behaviours.

"We can all take action that can help our own happiness and indeed that of others and I think a really big thing is for Action for Happiness with and for others, as well as for ourselves.”

Can you tell us a bit about the 10 keys to happier living?

"The 10 Keys To Happier Living are based on literally thousands and thousands of academic studies. I realised that no one was going to trawl through all of those studies to find out how to be happier, but I did. A lot of what I do is making that information accessible and understandable."

What is positive psychology?

"Positive psychology is the science of psychology, but focusing on those things that enables people to flourish and the benefits of this in tercms of buffering against mental ill health.

"Positive psychology is not about positive and it is not about positive thinking. There are elements that are positive. There’s a lot of misnomers around it. It’s not about having a happy smiley face all of the time. I call them '10 Keys to Happier Living' rather than the '10 Keys To Happiness' because everybody’s life has ups and downs. If we expect that by trying a few things you are happy forever, all the time, 24 hours a day, then you would be setting yourself up for a big disappointment. And so I think that is really important to make clear."

What would you say to someone who - with everything going on in the world - is feeling guilty if they are able to be happy?

"Don’t feel guilty, feel grateful and then do something kind for someone else."

And finally, how can we get involved and support Action for Happiness?

:We’ve got some online events which are getting some really fantastic engagement. You can also go to our website and download our monthly calendars and download our free app which includes a ten day programme. We’ve also get some online get togethers to bring local communities together virtually.”


Vanessa recently joined us on our panel The Art and Science of Happiness which you can catch up with on our website, where you can also sign up to find out about our future events. 

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

You might also like…