Happiness, Gratitude and the London Borough of Merton…

At Intentionality we’re obsessed with well-being and we’re big fans of happiness.  We’re also based in the London Borough of Merton.

What do these things have in common you might ask?

Tomorrow, Raynes Park (part of the borough of Merton) will commence its annual MyRaynesPark Festival with the theme of the festival this year being ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’.  This brilliant festival runs from the 30th May to the 8th June and is organised by volunteers from numerous local churches and community groups.

Over the course of the festival there will be poetry, music, art, film, photography, comedy, food, drama, social action and much more.  Two things caught our eye in particular though.  Firstly, a ‘gratitude board’ will be erected in the centre of the town as a space for passers by to write up things they are grateful for.  Part art installation and part science experiment, its hoped the gratitude board will be quirky and creative, as well as communicating and encouraging something serious and impactful at the same time. As Barry Schwartz explains:

“This may seem trite, the sort of thing one hears from parents or ministers, and then ignores.  But individuals who regularly experience and express gratitude are physically healthier, more optimistic about the future, and feel better about their lives than those who do not.  Individuals who experience gratitude are more alert, enthusiastic, and energetic than those who do not, and they are more likely to achieve personal goals.  And unlike adaptation, the experience of gratitude is something we can affect directly.  Experiencing and expressing gratitude actually get easier with practice.  By causing us to focus on how much better our lives are than they could have been, or were before, the disappointment that adaptation brings in its wake can be blunted.”  The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz, p.179

 Fascinating stuff and very profound.

And onto the second thing that caught our eye. The MyRaynesPark Festival team have asked residents to nominate the people that make them happy to be included on Raynes Park’s first ever ‘Happy List’.  Those nominated will have their names posted on the Festival website and will be invited to a celebration in honour of their involvement in the community.  We like this idea so much, we’ve sponsored the event and are really proud to be associated with it.

Perhaps the idea will spread elsewhere.  Why not spread a little happiness and organise a Happy List for your village, town, office or school to celebrate those who make the world a better place.  We’re very grateful for people like that…