The science of happiness

Most of us seek it in our lives, yet it has proved to be something that politicians are unable or unwilling to put at the centre of policy making – until now. In recent years, the science of happiness has been a growing area, and we are now able to identify and measure (with scientific backing) a number of the factors that are proven to make us happy and, conversely, unhappy.

Although policy makers are just starting to get to grips with the implications of this work for policy making, this report by the Young Foundation gives a useful overview of the impact that this thinking on happiness and well-being could have on policy developments in different areas of life – from the elderly to the workplace.

Anyone working for social or environmental change will be interested to read about the possible ways a focus on happiness and well-being could increase their effectiveness in seeking behaviour change from the public. Contact me if you want to discuss ways of applying this thinking to your organisation’s work.

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  1. Interesting Richard – thanks for posting.

    Looking at the report, I was struck by the several mentions of work, but few mentions of the role of business and the relationships that people have within businesses.

    What I mean is that in small businesses especially there is an opportunity for people to build strong, independent and inspiring relationships that add significantly to their well-being and happiness.

    The right 'democratic' work structures can surely lead to more happiness (oh and better business results)?

  2. Thanks Peter – I agree. Although this report mentions relatively little about it, organisations like nef Consulting ( and the Work Foundation (, amongst others, are now exploring how businesses can be driven to promote well-being.

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