John Dray – Senior Happiness Associate

Would you like to be happier?

20110423_JDR_0647.jpgI know I needed to feel happier when I was introduced to the Happiness and Wellbeing programme back in 2011.

The programme was originally designed by Julia as an early intervention for people suffering with mild to moderate mental health issues. In this it was backed by both the IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) and Maudsley teams.

The programme was based around the premise that you can do something about your feelings of unhappiness and that there are scientifically proven ways to help you do this.

Meeting with that group of sad, down-trodden people it did seem hard to imagine that we could ever be happy. People had suffered amazing levels of hurt and mistreatment.

Could anything help them, us, me?

Over the course of our time on the programme we worked through many techniques and looked at putting the pieces of our lives back together. Some were as simple as giving our ‘happiness level’ a score out of ten. One of my favourite techniques was when we broke down the difficulties we were facing in different areas of our life using ‘The Wheel of Happiness’ and worked out what would give each of us the ‘biggest bang for our buck’. Then there was ‘cultivating optimism’. This was particularly challenging because, like limpets when the tide goes out, we kept trying to return to the familiarity of our furrows of unhappiness. We were called upon to take new paths. With help and support we did.

We discovered that we shared common fears. We supported one another as we worked on our individual obstacles and, by the end, we were happier. Better than that, we had the techniques to support our continued progress.

Seeing what a difference it had made to my life and the life of others, I felt that I would like to help mentor others on later iterations of the course. This was an amazing experience: being a sounding board to the woes of others and supporting them in achieving their goals; seeing people mend their lives.

And so I went on to assist Julia in running various happiness events. I must say: We are a magic team!

We both share joy in seeing people’s lives transformed.

Since then the programme has been re-written for more general use. It continues to use scientifically proven techniques to improve happiness and wellbeing. It still transforms lives.

I trust this programme because I know how it helped turn my life around, helped me retain my job, support my family and take a new, more positive outlook on life.

How about you? Would you like to be happier?