Category Archives: Happy Events

Let altruism be your guide

Yesterday I was amongst one of the lucky 800 people who attended an Action for Happiness event with buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard. 


Matthieu Ricard made the case that altruism is a powerful way to make decisions for both the short and long term benefit of humanity and the planet.  Matthieu defined altruism as the wish that other people can be happy and find the causes of happiness.  Empathy on the other hand is the affective resonance which tells you that others are joyful or are suffering.  However, empathy for another’s distress is not enough and can lead to burnout,  so loving kindness is needed to avoid this.

Matthieu Ricard argued that in order to have a more altruistic society we need both change at the individual level and at societal level.  “Is it possible for an individual to change?” he asked. 2000 years of contemplative studies say yes, 15 years of collaboration with neuroscience and epigenetics says yes.… Read the rest...

Shiny, happy people in Amsterdam


A shiny, happy person in an Amsterdam flea market.

Last week I had the good fortune to attend the 7th European Conference on Positive Psychology (ECPP) in the beautiful city of Amsterdam.  Apart from a great opportunity to get together with some of my fellow MAPP students from London, the conference was also an opportunity to meet other MAPP students from around the world and to hear some of the best known researchers in the field talk about their work.  The conference was held at Beurs van Berlage, a stunning venue in central Amsterdam, which was to be our refuge for the duration of the week until we emptied out in to the bustling streets of Amsterdam each evening to digest the contents of the day’s lectures and workshops.

So what do 900 plus positive psychologist do for a week when they are couped up in a beautiful building apart from repeatedly sing Pharrell William’s Happy song? A lot of serious scientific stuff actually (although … Read the rest...

Part 4 of A Declaration of Courage – 366 Days of Kindness

As I continue with my month of courage, in which I try out things which take me out of my comfort zone, one of the things I decided to do was to attend events which interested me even if none of my friends were available to join me.  Although I would quite happily go for a coffee alone or travel abroad alone for some reason I had a fixed mindset when it came to going to the theatre or an event on my own.  A couple of weeks ago, I decided to take the plunge and went to the theatre on my own to see the brilliant 366 Days of Kindness show at Stratford Circus Theatre.

The show was written and performed by Bernadette Russell and Gareth Brierley and tells the story of Bernadette’s quest to practice an act of kindness every day for a year starting on 18th August 2011. If you get a chance to see the show, it is currently touring until May 2014.  It struck me while watching the show that Bernadette was actually pretty courageous so I thought she would be a great person to … Read the rest...

Philip Zimbardo: how do we make sense of time

Last night I attended a fascinating School of Life event with psychologist Dr Philip Zimbardo and philosopher and School of Life faculty member Robert Rowland Smith who gave us their individual perspective on how we understand time.

Dr Zimbardo explained that life is about temptations which relate to time such as yes versus no, now versus later.  He repeated Walter Mischel’s famous marshmallow experiment which I have mentioned in a previous post about willpower but I thought this version was also worth sharing as it is really amusing. Dr Zimbardo made the point that the children who could resist the immediate temptation of one marshmallow now versus two later had already developed a future-orientation to time.  As Walter Mischel’s experiments had proved earlier, this future orientation was a strong indicator of the children’s future success in life.

Zimbardo – Marshmallow experiment

Dr Zimbardo recounted… Read the rest...

Empathy – the new extreme sport?

Image of Other Information For Hirers

Image from Conway Hall website

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending my second Sunday Sermon with the School of Life at Conway Hall.  I had attended my first Sunday Sermon last year with the wonderful Brené Brown who set the bar very high when she spoke about courage and vulnerability to an enraptured audience.  (You can read about me previous Sunday Sermon experience here.) It was, therefore, with high expectations that I came to hear Roman Krznaric speak about the topic of empathy – a subject which he has researched for the past 10 years and which is the topic of his latest book of the same name.

As someone who eschewed formal religion when I stopped attending Sunday School as a child, the Sunday Sermons run by the School of Life are an interesting break with traditional Sunday fare. The sermons offer the same opportunity to reflect on a important topic, to exercise the lungs by having a sing song and they also offer the possibility of connection… Read the rest...

Sweet are the uses of adversity

“Sweet are the uses of adversity” William Shakespeare in As You Like It.

Adversity struck the UK yesterday in the shape of a freak storm which caused incredible damage and destruction as it swept across the south of the country on its way to Scandinavia. Apart from a slightly wobbly garden fence and a few shattered plant pots I was very lucky to have escaped unscathed.  Others were not so fortunate.



Adversity did strike me personally in that I was unable to attend Malcolm Gladwell’s talk about his new book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants at The Lyceum Theatre last night as all the train lines to London were down.  I knew that Malcolm Gladwell was an excellent story teller, as I had previously seen him in London during the launch of his book Outliers, but my evening out was not to be. Ironically overcoming adversity is the topic of Malcolm Gladwell’s new book and I am eager… Read the rest...

The Choir With No Name


Fear has a large shadow, but he himself is quite small.  He has a vivid imagination.  He composes horror music in the middle of the night.  He is not very social and he keeps himself to himself at political meetings.  His past is a mystery.  He warned us not to talk about him, adding there is nowhere any of us could go where he wouldn’t hear us. We were quiet.  When we began to talk to each other he changed.  His manners started to seem pompous and his snarling voice sounded rehearsed.

Two dragons guard Fear’s mansion.  One is ceramic and Chinese.  The other is real. If you make it past the dragons and speak to him close up, it is amazing how fragile he is.  He will try to tell you stories.  Be aware. He is a master of disguises and illusions. Fear almost convinced me that he was a puppet maker and I was a marionette.

Speak out boldly.  Look him in the eye. Startle him. Don’t give up. Win his respect and he will never bother you with small matters.Read the rest...

1000 cups of kindness

Have you heard about the latest exhibition at the Foundling Museum in London?  I think it is genius.  It is an unusual exhibition which is banking on your cooperation for its success.  The exhibition features the work of British ceramic artist Clare Twomey and the show centres on 1000 identical cups and saucers, each with an inscription between the base of the cup and the plate of a good deed.

Would you be willing to perform a mystery good deed in exchange for a work of art? Don’t just expect to turn up and be offered one as only a certain number of visitors will get the chance to pledge their willingness to perform an act of kindness.

Clare Twomey ‘s inspiration for this exhibition is the museum’s social history collection. The Foundling Museum tells the story of the first hospital for abandoned children founded by Thomas Coram in 1739. Along with works of art by William Hogarth and other founding benefactors, the musuem’s… Read the rest...

Happy – The Movie

I missed the launch of Happy, the documentary film by Academy Award nominated director Roko Belic (Genghis Blues), when it was launched in the UK some months ago at an Action for Happiness event.  This award winning documentary travels around the world looking at what makes people happy.

The organisation Students for Happiness will be screening The Happy Movie on Wednesday 21st November at The Bloomsbury Theatre in London. A ticket costs just £8 and any profits will be donated to the charity Mind. Watch the trailer and decide for yourself whether you want to go along. It will probably be £8 well spent.  Click here to buy a ticket.


Posted by Shona Lockhart, 5th November 2012

How to make a difference

How to make a difference [15 November 2012]

Have you ever wondered how you can change the world? Can anything which you as an individual do actually make a difference?  I firmly believe that individuals can and do make a difference and am currently reading “How to change the World” by John-Paul Flintoff which is full of practical ideas and stories about doing just that.  The book reminded me of a story in the Star Thrower – a book by philospher, Loren Eiseley.  It is better known as the starfish thrower and was made into a children’s story called Sara and the Starfish. The story goes as follows:

An old man had a habit of early morning walks on the beach. One day, after a storm, he saw a human figure in the distance moving like a dancer. As he came closer he saw that it was a young woman and she was not dancing but was reaching down to the sand, picking up a starfish and very gently throwing them into the ocean.

“Young lady,” he asked, “Why are you throwing starfish into… Read the rest...