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Scotland’s Happiness Day: sharing happiness and hope

09 Nov 2012 | Kim Macleod

Kim Macleod

Life very rarely goes in a straight line - it is full of highs and lows. In my own life, I've experienced heartbreaking loss and adversity, yet I've also learnt to find happiness, which in turn has helped me to be more resilient and able to cope with what life throws at me. When we feel good, our positive emotions spread to others around us too and everyone benefits. I genuinely believe that if more people understood this, and knew how to go about it, our society would be a far better place.

I spent 20 years working as a Human Resources Manager in various sectors. I saw so many people struggle with stress, worry, anxiety and fear. Unhappiness at work often sees co-operation, teamwork and productivity replaced with low morale, increased absence, lack of trust and poor performance. I have seen people floored by depression, leaving them feeling so low and bleak that they seem unable to express or feel any emotion.

I wanted to find a way to help people to step out of this negative mindset, to feel more positive and break free from the negative spiral. This led me to explore a wide range of topics, including neuroscience, emotional intelligence, spirituality and much more. I read about positive psychology, tried self-help books and learned about various alternative therapies.

A real breakthrough came when I learned about NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming). It provided a whole set of tools to change the mind set and I found that it had really fast results. So in 2006 I decided to quit my job to set up Stress the Positive, with the aim to help people who were struggling with life.  I developed courses and provided one-to-one therapy sessions. It was all very exciting and rewarding as the clients I was working with changed their lives around quickly.

I also taught my two children, Calum and Kirsten, the techniques that I had learned and they also started to understand that they could change how they felt.  But tragically, in October 2007, just a few weeks short of his 13th birthday, Calum lost his life to meningitis.

The impact of Calum's death shook me to my very core. The grief, depression, panic and anxiety were overwhelming. I questioned so many of my values trying to make sense of what had happened, but I vowed that I would be happy again, that our family would survive this tragedy. I wanted Calum to be proud of us and to recognise us as the family he knew if he could see us.

After learning all these great techniques and ways to help others I now found myself having to apply them to my own thoughts. Grief is about as far removed from happiness as I have ever been; I described my days as black with no motivation to do anything. I knew that exercise can increase endorphins but as I struggled to get dressed, going outside seemed beyond me. This is when I began to use little simple things to lift my mood for a short while.

Listening to upbeat music, using aromatherapy, reading inspiring quotes and looking up to the sky all helped to create a chink of light in the darkness.  I began to write letters to Calum in a journal, pouring out my emotions while feeling a connection with him. Together with family and friends we began to raise awareness and funds for the Meningitis Trust. Many people helped with our fundraising efforts and we were on the receiving end of such kindness from people all over the world.  These acts of kindness were like a beacon of light in the darkness that allowed some colour and happiness to enter my world. I was then able to use even more of my knowledge, disconnecting the trauma and emotion using a variety of NLP techniques and mindfulness. Gradually I became happier, friends and family noticed the difference as I smiled more and even began to laugh again. 

Grief does not just vanish though; I still have days that are difficult but this is only natural. It is why real life happiness is so important to me. This is not about positive thinking or pretending everything is wonderful, it is learning what can work, trying new things and building the inner resilience to help bounce back from the low points. For example, we can use good memories to connect with positive emotions, learn new skills (I took up quilt making), build stronger connections with friends, help others, do something that makes us laugh, dance in our living room - or just whatever we find works for us. 

The Happiness Club is born

I learned so much about what helped me feel happier that I wanted to share that with as many people as possible. So in April 2011, I set up The Happiness Club, coinciding with the launch of Action for Happiness. It now has over 200 members in 3 different locations and our meetings could certainly never be labelled as boring!

We've been using the Action for Happiness Ten Keys to Happier Living as our monthly themes this year, but this isn't just about discussion. The aim is to learn and try out real tools that can help too - members learn about mindfulness, NLP and other techniques to change beliefs and let go of negative emotions; they write gratitude journals, learn how colour can affect mood, fill laughter banks, create feel good tunes and so much more. We invite guest speakers and arrange special events and workshops. It's all about empowering people to take control of their own happiness and encouraging them to make changes in a friendly and supportive atmosphere.

Scotland's Happiness Day - 10/11/12

When World Happy Day happened back in February this year the Happiness Club arranged a showing of the movie Happy.  It started me thinking - Scotland should have its own happiness day. Scots can be seen as bit dour - we aren't, we just need a bit of encouragement at times! 

Together with some of our loyal Happiness Club members we have created a fabulous Scotland's Happiness Day event in Glasgow to encourage and spread more happiness.  With inspiring speakers and a great range of workshops we are taking happiness to the next level.

We would love to see you there, but if you can't make it along you could always join in by following these three ways we'll be boosting happiness on the day:

  1. Get together with friends or make some new ones
  2. Get active and take part in activities that you enjoy
  3. Add more acts of kindness to your day

We all deserve to be happy and we can all help others around us be happier too. I choose to believe this and I think Calum would be happy with our efforts too.

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Kim Macleod runs Stress the Positive and The Happiness Club. She has been a member and supporter of Action for Happiness since it's launch in 2011. You can find out more about Scotland's Happiness Day and book tickets here.

Scotland Happiness Day

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POSTER: GREAT DREAM

Ten Keys to Happier Living

Great Dream 200

See the full set of posters

POSTER #8: EMOTIONS

Look for what's good

Emotions 200

"We urgently need a change in priorities. So if you believe in a more caring society that puts well-being before wealth, and prioritises the things that really matter, then join us - add your voice and take action. Together we can create a happier and kinder world".

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Mark Williamson
Director, Action for Happiness

Action for Happiness

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