Switch off, chip in, be happy, say activists
Renowned Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama gestures during a public speech in Mumbai (Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images)
Action for Happiness was co-founded by Richard Layard, an economics professor at the London School of Economics, and is supported by more than 4,500 members from 68 countries and organizations such as the British Psychological Society.
The movement rejects individualism and the pursuit of material wealth and provides alternative practical tips for a happier life, which it says are based on scientific evidence.
One of the less obvious recommendations came from Henry Stewart, head of training organization Happy Ltd., who asked an audience in London: "How would you feel if you could choose your manager?"
The response from the packed hall was, presumably happy, laughter.
The group's website, actionforhappiness.org, advises happiness-seekers to help others, exercise and pursue goals, as well as meditate, take a break from technology and organize a block party.
"Average levels of charitable giving across the world correlate better with happiness than levels of GDP," said Geoff Mulgan, co-founder of Action for Happiness and a former senior British government official.
In further support of its arguments, the movement says that surveys of Britons and Americans show they are no more content now than in the 1950s despite substantial economic progress.
"The main external factor affecting a person's happiness is the quality of their relationships, at home, at work and in the community. And the main internal factor is their underlying mental health," it said in a statement.
Governments are becoming increasingly concerned with assessing national well-being, using data outside traditional economic measures to help craft policy.
Britain will soon start asking new questions in its regular household survey to establish how satisfied people are with their lives.
For its part, France has asked Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, a former World Bank chief economist, and a group of international experts, to find new ways to measure economic progress taking into account social well-being.
About the group
Action for Happiness has no religious affiliation. It was founded in 2010.