To be honest we’ve been somewhat challenged of late within the Happy City communications team. The issue might seem daft, given our name and aim, but in the face of recent tragic and trying news we’ve had to ask:
Just how ‘Happy’ should we be trying to be?
The ongoing social turmoil of Brexit. The foul winds of Trump still blowing across the Atlantic. The devastating terrorist attacks and Grenfell fire… Not the mention the continuing chaotic fall out of our latest (but likely not last!) election. Amid it all it can be difficult for us to find the right ‘Happy message’ to keep new content flowing across our social media.
Plus what the hell is the ‘right kind of Happy’ anyhow?
At first glance these issues may seem a little trivial as well as self inflicted (after all, we chose the name), but they are not. Happy matters! What kind of happy is vital. We strongly believe that many of the problems in our society come from the fact that we’ve been (force?)fed the wrong sort of happy and it doesn’t take a genius to understand that the wrong kind of happy (#FAKEHAPPY ?) makes us… sad.
At Happy City our mission is to ‘reclaim happiness from commercial triviality and make it a guiding, radical principle for society.’ We are trying to change the way happiness is perceived, real happiness is not something superfluous, silly, fluffy… Happy isn’t serious but it is seriously important.
The right happiness is integral to our wellbeing, our creativity and our connection to the people around us that turn us from inward looking individuals into a flourishing community.
We believe real, constructive, enabling happiness matters a great deal more than the fluffy stuff that some people use to try to sell us sugary drinks and cars. Especially in times such as these, when happiness is hard find, our job becomes one of sifting through the many ‘empty slogans’ to find the words that are motivational, are wise, are thoughtful and feeling. For so long society has been programmed to dismiss wellbeing for “more important” things like productivity, self promotion and economic growth. It can be hard to overcome this social disposition, born of advertising, that anything talking about happiness is of little consequence or inane.
Happiness sells, but that’s not what it is. Adverts have so manipulated the language of happiness that ‘consumerism’ now seems to be a fundamental component. Whenever we watch television, walk past a bus stop or read a magazine we are told that the way we experience life could be enriched — all we need to do is buy stuff. We need to acknowledge this is usurping real happiness, offering a shallow and insubstantial surrogate in its stead. Although few of us can deny the frivolous thrill of a little retail therapy, real enrichment comes from real acts, not things.
‘Happiness is fleeting’ as the old adage has it, here at Happy City we measure it as a pulse. We can, however, work to make it more consistent, more reliable, a stronger beat that everyone can share. This isn’t about spending money, it’s about spending our time; investing in our own wellbeing and connecting with others to enrich our communities. Our belief is that this happiness is of value, whatever is in the news.
Mo Forman – Communications intern