Defining happiness with Prof Paul Dolan for International Day of Happiness

Did you know? It’s International Day of Happiness!

Group hug!

What you might not know is that invest a lot of time in feeling happy. I start every day with journaling, and end it with a spot of meditation (hashtag: ommmm). I walk with my dog every day (at least twice) in the lovely countryside behind my house. I chill out. I do spiritual shit. I try to do more of the things which make me happy, and less of the things which don’t. And when I do have to do stuff which doesn’t make me jump for joy, I try to adjust my attitude about it.

And I’m always up for learning more about how to be happier.

So, when Penguin Books asked me to blog about Prof Paul Dolan’s new book “Happiness By Design” – about how we can design our lives for happiness – I said I’d be overjoyed 😉 How to design your life for happiness – by thinking less and doing more. As well as being a Professor of Behavioural Science, Prof Dolan is also a bodybuilder (<< fun fact!) and has always been interested in the links between healthy lifestyles and happiness.

First up, some stats about happiness and grassroots sport from Join In, a London 2012 charity that puts more volunteers into community sport. (To find out more about volunteering opportunities in sport check the Join In website joininuk.org.)

join in research happiness volunteer sport grassroots
You can read Join In’s research about happiness and volunteering in sport here.

Join In have discovered just how powerful volunteering in sport can be for boosting happiness and wellbeing. According to their research, volunteers who are involved in sports clubs were less likely to feel anxious or worried and less likely to cry (aw!) And they were more likely to feel happy, part of their community and that their life has a purpose.

Purpose!

That little word has a lot of meaning according to Prof Dolan, as he explains in his “Happiness By Design” book. In fact, the tagline of the book is “finding pleasure and purpose in everyday life”.

happiness by design dolan book review
Happiness is difficult to define, as Prof Dolan admits early in the book. It’s completely subjective and highly personal.

But he sticks his neck on the line and offers a definition: the “pleasure-purpose principle” which he details at the start of the book.

“Your happiness is determined by how you allocate your attention,” he writes. “Attention devoted to one stimulus is, by definition, attention that is not devoted to another… The scarcity of attentional resources means that you must consider how you can make and facilitate better decisions… You will be the happiest you can be when you allocate your attention as best you can.”

This book is a great read if you’re interested in happiness and emotional wellbeing. Is it how we think, or what we do? (The book suggests it’s the latter.) You’ll find out how to redesign habitual ways of thinking, to make more of the deliberate choices that bring pleasure and meaning to your world (for it’s that combination, says Dolan, which equals happiness).

Highly recommended, grab a copy on Amazon in paperback or for Kindle. Thank you for sending me the review copy, Penguin Books people!

Happy International Day Of Happiness! What are you doing today which will make you happy?

Defining happiness with Prof Paul Dolan for International Day of Happiness is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

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