Inspirational movement Action for Happiness has big crowdfunding ambitions to make the world a happier place
“We don’t have many forums in society to discuss our experiences of our own happiness, what makes us and others happy, what we’ve been through and how we’ve come through it,” says Alex Nunn, head of movement building at Action for Happiness (AfH).
“Other than perhaps, if we have a few close friends and these things come up late into the evening in deep discussions, we don’t see much of a conversation in the media or at work. But there’s nothing like learning from someone else on how they’ve got through a difficult situation,” he suggests.
Nunn is explaining the ambitions behind the Action for Happiness £100,000 crowdfunding campaign, running until Sunday 25 October.
The organisation, which encourages people to think more deeply about their own happiness and the happiness of others, originally set a target of £35,000, with a ‘stretch’ aim of £100,000. With just over a week to go, they are well on way to reaching £70,000 using crowdfunder.co.uk.
“The higher amount will mean AfH can take its eight-week happiness course to scale at many more locations around the world with the aim of eventually seeing a societal shift in values and our understanding of what makes for a happy life,” says Nunn.
“It opens group discussions to explore ‘big questions’ such as, what actually makes us happy? And, how can we create a happier world?”
So far, the course – comprising of a two-hour session once a week – has run in limited slots and locations, mainly in London. But with more than 1,300 volunteer course facilitators already signed up from all over the world (the largest portion currently in the UK), AfH wants to use the money to resource them, train them and input the technology needed to run the course on a mass scale.
Titled Exploring What Matters, the course is based on the latest expert research and advice, and has been piloted extensively to test effectiveness. Each session looks at mood boosters, expert views and encourages reflection on personal experiences. It opens group discussions to explore ‘big questions’ such as, what actually makes us happy? And, how can we create a happier world?
So far, the course, which is backed by AfH patron the Dalai Lama, has shown a ‘very positive impact on wellbeing’, according to AfH. Former participant Helen Thompson says she hadn’t been very happy at work when she took the course and hadn’t properly taken the time to think about how that was affecting her or what she could do to change it.
“By doing things like tuning in, watching the TED Talks and discussing with the rest of the group, I realised that I hadn’t actually talked to anyone at work about how I was feeling. This gave me the confidence to ask my boss for a review of my role and create an action plan,” she says.
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Nunn adds: “We run each course over two months, even though it could be condensed, to allow participants time to develop a sense of community with each other, to learn from others who score more highly on the happiness scale and have gestation space for discussions.
“We want to prime the organic conversations that used to happen around the campfire; the sharing of wisdom and life experience. That’s so much more authentic than telling people ‘this is the route to happiness’.”
Since forming in 2011 AfH has members in 55 countries, from Bristol and Brighton to Ukraine and Japan. It has more than 345,000 Facebook followers, many in Asia.
“We want to reach far and wide to create real depth of change with this money,” enthuses Nunn.
The Action for Happiness #HappierWorld crowdfunding campaign runs on Crowdfunder until Sunday 25 October.