4 Nov 2008

'Five-a-day' to well-being

The New Economics Foundation has developed a set of five evidence-based actions that, if practised regularly, can improve personal well-being.

The research was part of the Government’s Foresight project on Mental Capital and Well-being and surprise surprise it shows that well-being does not depend on spending money or consuming more. See more here. For too long, as we've said on this blog many a time, we have measures success by consumption, GDP and the rest - what really matters - once basic needs are met - is taking time to develop connections with the world and people around. Indeed previously in a blog I covered the study showing a carbon-lite life is a happier life - see here - and less than a month ago I looked again at the links between capitalism and mental health (see here).

Greens have tried to get such indicators as happiness incorporated into our local strategies - and things are shifting - the Glos Economic Strategy now specifically notes that economic growth doesn't bring happiness. More than just words are needed - and we are certainly not yet like Bhutan with their Gross National Happiness index instead of GDP. Anyhow here is nef's ‘Five ways to well-being’ - nothing earth shattering but with the credit crunch it is perhaps worth reminding us that some of the best things in life don't come from Tesco or Comet.


With the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. At home, work, school or in your local community.

Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.


Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance.

Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy; one that suits your level of mobility and fitness.


Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are on a train, eating lunch or talking to friends.

Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.


Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Take on a different responsibility at work. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food.

Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident, as well as being fun to do.


Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in.

Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and will create connections with the people around you.

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