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Celebrating those who bring happiness to others

01 Jul 2015 | Joshua French

Brighton Happy List

The first Brighton & Hove Happy List was published recently, celebrating those who make the city a happier place to live. Organising it was a heart-warming and humbling experience.

I'm from the Action for Happiness Brighton group, one of the largest groups in the country. We were already aware of (and delighted by) the annual Independent on Sunday Happy List, which is an alternative to the Sunday Times Rich List. It is very much in the spirit of Action for Happiness to recognise people for the good they do and the joy the spread, rather than for how much they earn.

In April, we were contacted by Happy City, who created the first local Happy List in Bristol in 2013. They decided to make it simple for other cities to create their own lists, by providing easy-to-use online nomination forms, email templates and other resources. Seizing the opportunity, we got the word out, found some judges, and the nominations started coming in.

Happy Bristol

Reading about the Brighton nominees' actions and stories was an uplifting process and opened my eyes to the sheer variety of ways people are doing good in our city.

Some people shine in their job, going above and beyond the call of duty to inspire and engage others. The nominees included the stories of nurses, teachers, foster carers, customer service assistants, lecturers and many other professionals who do this. There were many nominations for people who used their creative talents to bring smiles to others' faces, such as writers, musicians and artists.

There were also many volunteers, giving up their free time to help others be happier and cared for, and also people who had set up charities and non-for-profits with the sole purpose of alleviating suffering for others. This diversity of approaches but unity of purpose was delightful to see.

The surprise and gratitude expressed by the champions testified to their selfless actions. One said, "I'm a bit overwhelmed... I've always wanted to help others as people have been so kind to me in the past. It's my way of giving back." He didn't expect any recognition, but it was very much appreciated.

"See life as it is, but focus on the good bits" is a great piece of advice on one of the Action for Happiness posters. Happy Lists are such an important idea because they help us focus on all the generosity of spirit, kindness and joy in our cities - things that can too often be overlooked.

Thank you Happy City, for making the list possible.

Happy City Homepage Image

The Brighton and Hove Happy List 2015 can be found on the Action for Happiness Brighton website and online with The Argus.


Joshua French Square

Joshua French helps run the Brighton Action for Happiness group and is passionate about creating a happier and more caring society. He is co-founder of Bailey & French.



Ten Keys to Happier Living

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See the full set of posters

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Happiness is contagious

Our happiness influences the people we know and the people they know.

Research shows that the happiness of a close contact increases the chance of being happy by 15%. The happiness of a 2nd-degree contact (e.g. friend's spouse) by 10% and the happiness of a 3rd-degree contact (e.g. friend of a friend of a friend) by 6%.

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Giving is good for you

When we give to others it activates the areas of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection and trust.

Altruistic behaviour releases endorphins in the brain and boosts happiness for us as well as the people we help. Studies have shown that giving money away tends to make people happier than spending it on themselves.


Look for what's good

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