The first Happier World Conference took place in London earlier in November 2016 and although it might not be coming back for another year, the nuggets of wisdom it had to offer could be carried forward to help you enjoy your life in this wonderful capital city a little more.
Temple’s Museum of Happiness was the very apt venue for this new event, which had the tagline ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’. It took place over several hours and featured Californian Nipun Mehta as a keynote speaker.
He is the founder of Service Space and, having received awards from no less than the Dalai Lama, was well-chosen as the host for the meeting.
Over the course of the day, workshops were held, talks were given and group hugs were handed out to participants, who no doubt went away feeling a bit more cheerful than they went in on a cold autumn day.
One of the recurring themes was kindfulness, which is an extension of the mindfulness phenomenon that has been sweeping the western world lately. Not only does it encourage you to take time out to appreciate the here and now, but it also reminds practitioners to be forgiving and friendly as they meditate.
Developed by Buddhist monk Ajahn Brahm, it invites people to send warmth and kindness even to their feelings of stress as a way of facing them and hopefully eliminating them from their lives.
If you were unfortunate enough to miss this unique and useful event on November 5th, you’ll be pleased to know that the museum does intend to bring it back for next year following extremely positive feedback from participants.
You can also take part in a range of other workshops and enjoy interactive happiness-themed exhibitions at the museum on a daily basis, so it’s well worth a visit as we move into the winter months.
However, why not invoke the spirit of the conference as you go about your daily business in the wonderful city that is London? It’s all too easy to become desensitised to the beautiful sights and fascinating attractions on offer if you live in a place, but re-experiencing them anew can help you to become that bit happier.
Speaking at the Hay Festival, Professor Paul Dolan from the London School of Economics said five simple things can make a big difference to your life – here they are and here’s how we’d apply them to London in particular:
1. Listening to a favourite piece of music
You’re spoilt for choice for music in this city, so head out one evening and take in a gig at one of the scores of live venues it houses. You can hear classical tunes at the Barbican, for example, which is home to the London Symphony Orchestra, or take in something rockier at Bush Hall, which has welcomed everyone from The Killers to the Sugababes. A Google search is sure to throw up something that appeals to you, so go along, sing your heart out and enjoy the feeling of well-being it gives you.
2. Spending five minutes with someone you like
London is home to a plethora of coffee shops, so why not forget the five minutes and take half an hour in one of them with a pal you’ve not seen for a while? There are so many venues to choose from that it’s hard to select just one, but the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs (which has eight branches across London) might be a good place to start.
3. Going outdoors
It’s easy to spend a lot less time outside in winter, but this can leave you feeling down. To prevent it, schedule some time outdoors in one of London’s beautiful parks at least once a week, and preferably more. You could always head out for a walk in your lunch break instead of poring over your Facebook news feed at your desk. As to where, the list is endless: Hyde Park and Primrose Hill are just a couple of starters.
4. Helping someone else
Helping someone in need is sure to give you a warm and fuzzy feeling inside and there are numerous opportunities for volunteering in London. The Mayor’s office has set up a dedicated scheme called Team London to link people up for this purpose, so this is your best starting point. You could also contact organisations such as Battersea Cats’ and Dogs’ Home to see if they need a hand.
5. Having a new experience
There are so many exciting things to do in London that you can’t possibly have seen and become jaded to them all, so take a look online and find something that you’ve never done before. For example, you could learn about pathology at the Hunterian Museum, or take a trip down memory lane at the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising. Just getting outside your comfort zone could give you a real boost.
So, there we have it. The Happier World Conference might be over, but its values can inspire you all year round.