2 October 2015

Free evening classes that promise to make you happy, or happier

The U.K organisation calling itself: "Action for Happiness," has launched an eight-week course designed to increase life satisfaction, mental wellbeing, compassion and social trust. Entitled: "Exploring What Matters," the classes will be free - although organisers do ask for a donation to cover costs. During the course, local groups explore a series of questions including "What really matters in life?", "What really makes us happy?" and "How can we create a happier world?" A class begins with a session of mindfulness, an ancient Buddhist practice during which participants deliberately focus their attention on the present moment, becoming aware of sensations and thoughts. It's an approach now used by the National Health Service (NHS) and some schools to improve mental wellbeing.

The approach is similar to the successful Christian Alpha course, started in London in the 1970s and now run in more than 150 countries around the world. Alpha describes itself as an opportunity to explore the meaning of life. Action for Happiness, on the other hand, stresses that Exploring What Matters is a secular project based on science rather than faith.