Scotland’s Happiness Day: sharing happiness and hope
09 Nov 2012 | 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
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
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:
- Get together with friends or make some new ones
- Get active and take part in activities that you enjoy
- 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.
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.
Do things for others, Local community, Be a Happiness Activist