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Start the New Year with a smile

6 January 2015

Just a little happier: DIY Happiness

By Alvi Rahman

Seated women laughing

DIY Happiness!

“Is everything okay? Why are you upset?” I kept hearing these questions when I saw people and I was so confused.  I soon realized that I had stopped smiling. But the scariest part of this was that, everyone around me didn’t seem to be happy either. Every day for the last three months I counted the people I saw smiling on the Tube. I never counted more than three a day. This really scared me and so I made a conscious effort to try and smile more.

When I started working for Well London, I was able to see this on a more microscopic level. Well London delivers health and well-being activities across London and I have been travelling to the different Well London areas, and my search for helpful projects led me to DIY Happiness.

DIY Happiness, held every month, aims to give participants a few tips – some provided by Londoners themselves, and others based on the ‘science of happiness’. The tips fall under the six categories – body, mind, spirit, people, place and planet to create a “wheel of well-being”. Almost immediately, I saw the impact that this project was having on the participants who are being supported to deliver well-being activities in their communities.

How can we be happy?

How can we be happy?

At the DIY Happiness sessions, we talk about how to be grateful for your life and to look at life from a positive point of view. We do not ignore difficult times but rather find ways to cope with these situations together. The participants have become friends with each other and it is easy to share our experiences, and how best we deal with different problems. There’s a common sense approach to happiness and everyone can achieve it. “What I like the most was that I learned about taking notice of my surroundings and enjoying what is happening and appreciate it”, says Sarah from Lambeth.

The techniques shared at the sessions can be easily implemented and you do not need to digest a lot of information.

I personally feel better equipped to handle stress. But I’m not the only who has been benefiting from these sessions. Khadija from Camden says: “Before the sessions, I used to spend hours just not living. I only recently learned how to handle stress and connect to people and that is so essential to our lives.”

I kept asking myself the question – how can I keep myself happy? I feel now that DIY Happiness has given me the answer that I have been elusively searching for the last six years. To be happy is not a permanent state. Rather, it’s embracing a way of living that allows you to cope with the hard times and realise the good times when you’re living them.


“Everyone has a stake in their own happiness so why shouldn’t we try to be happy?”

– Neetu, DIY Happiness Coordinator


Check out DIY Happiness tips at

Find out more about Big Lottery funded health and well being projects at

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