One book from the Senate House Library’s Wellbeing Collection that has lots of helpful and practical advice about how to increase our happiness is 10 keys to happier living : a practical handbook for happiness by Vanessa King. This book is part of a wider movement called Action for Happiness that encourages people to take action to make themselves happier and build a kinder world. Each chapter of this book focuses on a different ‘key’ to happier living, giving information about the science and theory behind each ‘key’. It offers a range of different actions and activities that you can try to improve your own personal happiness.
“Moving for our minds” in the ‘key’ on exercising, touches on the growing body of research that suggests that “green exercise” – the exercise we do in nature, be that in the countryside, a city park or just in our local streets – can have added positive effects on our mood and on our psychological wellbeing. This doesn’t mean that we all need to become marathon runners or spend all our time outside – even just a short walk around a local park or around your local streets can help you to get the benefits of green exercise. Here are some ideas for getting out into nature:
• Gardening is great way to get some exercise and spend some time in nature - if you don’t have a garden of your own, you could volunteer in a community garden or outdoor project
• Go for a walk around your local park or neighbourhood, taking time to observe and appreciate the surroundings
• If you like to do yoga or other classes traditionally held inside, see if you can find one taught outside in a local green space (Covid-19 restrictions permitting, of course)
Awareness is another “Key” to happiness from 10 keys to happier living. In this chapter, King suggests a series of ways to make everyday moments mindful, many of which include looking more closely at the nature that is around us, even if we live in urban areas. Suggestions include:
• Turning indoor meals into picnics to have in the garden or in your local park or green space (If this is permitted under your local area’s Covid-19 restrictions)
• Instead of the sofa, take a book out to a park or green space near you for a change of scene
• Allowing yourself time to simply sit and be mindful in nature – find a green space, sit down and try to notice the sounds, smells, textures and colours of nature around you.