GREAT DREAM – 10 Keys to Happier Living

The 10 keys to happier living describe the areas in which scientific research suggests we can take practical action to boost our wellbeing. They are based on a review of research from psychology and related fields by Vanessa King and Action for Happiness. The first five keys GREAT are based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing and are about how we interact with the outside world in our daily activities, the second five keys DREAM come from inside us and are influenced by our attitude to life. 

I thought it would be interesting to explore the 10 Keys for Happier Living and see how we can apply them in our current climate after previously writing about the positive impact that the Five Ways to Wellbeing had upon my mental health recovery.  

Taking action to maintain and improve our well-being has never been more important. One of the classic positive psychology experiments asks people to write down “three good things” and why you think those three good things happen to you each night for a week. After six months they found people were happier but also noticed a decrease in depressive symptoms. Mental Health First Aid England suggests that the strategies contained within the 10 keys for happier living are:

  • Positive steps to suggest to anyone with a mental health issue, and
  • Positive steps for self-care for carers, and
  • Positive steps for all of us to improve our own mental health.

The 10 keys to happier living are:

  • Giving – holding out a helping hand makes other people happy and will make you feel happier too
  • Relating – the people around you offer a valuable pool of support so it’s important to put time into strengthening those connections
  • Exercising – regular activity will provide endorphin boost and increased confidence
  • Awareness – taking time to switch off autopilot and be in the moment is a great tool to combat Stress
  • Trying out – learning new things is stimulating and can help to lift your mood
  • Direction – working towards positive realistic goals can provide motivation and structure
  • Resilience – although we can’t always choose what happens to us, we can often choose our own response to what happens
  • Emotions – positive emotions can build up a buffer against stress and even lead to lasting changes in the brain to help maintain well being
  • Acceptance – no one is perfect. Longing to be someone different gets in the way of making the most of our own happiness
  • Meaning – people who have meaning in their lives experience less stress, anxiety and depression

Over the next 10 weeks, the Health and Wellbeing Inspiration team will be reviewing each of the 10 keys to happiness and providing tips with how they can help and be applied in our current climate. You can find them at

So why not make a start today on “three good things”? Being grateful can help people to cope with stress but it’s something that we need to consciously learn to get into the habit of doing.  So why not give it a go:

  • Every night – before you go to bed think about your day and remember three good things that happened went well, you enjoyed or were grateful for – they may be small such as hearing the birds sing, making a new recipe and note them down
  • Think about why – for each thing you are grateful for, write down why it happened and why you feel good about it
  • Look Back – after a week look back at what you have written – think about how it makes you feel and consider any patterns
  • Keep it up – keep trying it can become a habit

At HWBInspiration we are quite a visual bunch and find that some of these tools are helpful to capture and track:

Thanks to Su Fowler Johnson for the photograph