Sometime in the late sixteen hundreds, this very bright British chap named John Locke defined goodness as that which creates happiness. Sounds good so far. Almost two thousand years earlier another also very sharp Greek dude named Aristotle wrote that not only is happiness the greatest good, it’s the only end in life, everything else being just a means. Okay, that makes sense too.

This group has two goals. The first is to explore the relationship between happiness and goodness. The second, much more fun, goal is for us to become much happier just by getting together and talking about happiness. The theory behind this second goal comes from a classic psychology study showing that by simply talking regularly about happiness we can become much happier.

While we'll depart from them whenever and however much we may wish, like by talking about gratitude, acts of kindness, meditation and other happiness techniques, the following list of 14 topics will serve as a backdrop for our discussions:

1. Keep busy and be more active

2. Spend more time socializing

3. Be productive at meaningful work

4. Get better organized and plan things out

5. Stop worrying

6. Lower your expectations and aspirations

7. Develop positive, optimistic thinking

8. Become present oriented

9. Develop an outgoing, social personality

10. Work on a healthy personality

11. Be yourself

12. Eliminate negative feelings and problems

13. Close relationships are the number one source of happiness

14. Put happiness as your most important priority.

Here's some background on the research our group is based on:

In 1980 three New Zealand researchers found that after eight 2-hour conversation sessions about happiness over four weeks, their subjects reported a 22 percent increase in their happiness. Continuing their twice-weekly sessions, by the sixteenth week they reported being 42 percent happier.

Our list of topics comes from Fort Myers, Florida psychologist Michael Fordyce's "14 Fundamentals of Happiness." In 1977, Fordyce pioneered the science of happiness-increase with the world's first experiment designed to boost individual happiness.

That's the group, and those are our goals. It's also very, very important that we have fun. With that in mind, let's get ready to get good and happy!


For those interested in learning about the major findings from social science research about happiness, and becoming happier, here are links to several excellent peer-reviewed articles that can be downloaded as pdf files for free. (Note: Although these classic articles are somewhat dated, decades of research on happiness reveal that findings on happiness tend to be extremely stable over time.)

Pursuing Happiness: The Architecture of Sustainable Change

By S Lyubomirsky, KM Sheldon and D Schkade, 2005.  21 pages

In Pursuit of Happiness: Empirical Answers to Philosophical Questions

By P Kesebir and E Diener, 2008. 9 pages.

Subjective Well-Being: Three Decades of Progress By E Diener, EM Suh, RE Lucas and HL Smith, 1999. 27 pages

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We just grab a coffee and speak French. Some people have been coming every week for months... it creates a kind of warmth to the group.

Rafaël, started French Conversation Group

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