Action For Happiness

Mark Easton reports on the BBC this morning about the launch of the Action For Happiness Project. Naturally, this interests me from a religious perspective.

Its ten pledges make no reference to God, which leave it doomed to failure in an important sense for me, although it rightly emphasises doing things for others as a source of happiness. Nevertheless, aiming for my own happiness is like looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You won’t find it by seeking it.
However, it’s interesting to note that one of the founders, Labour economist Professor Richard Layard, says the project is important because organised religion has failed to turn back the “tide of narrow individualism”. And that’s a criticism I think we should listen to in the Church. Has that happened because we simply have not persuaded people of the virtues of the Gospel? Or is it more about us failing to embody an adequate Gospel?

In the book I’m reading right now, Alan Hirsch says,

In an already overtly consumeristic culture, Western Christians tend to view the church as a place that exists to serve my spiritual needs. When viewed like this, it becomes just another silo. If one church (silo) doesn’t fulfill my particular taste and perceived needs, then I will simply look until I find one that does. If this is true, then we can probably say that many Christians have now subconsciously determined that “the community exists for me”, rather than the more missional “me for the community”. (Page 166)

So – there’s the challenge for the Church: to be a community, not a silo.


  1. I think happiness catches us by surprise. You’re right, we won’t find it by seeking it.
    I find it’s the people in my church community that are important to me – I have a personal relationship with Jesus (how does He put up with me!) – and I feel very blessed to be part of that community, even though I grit my teeth sometimes at vestry meetings.


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