Simple Ways to Well-Being and Happiness
By the New Economic Foundation (nef)
As part of a major UK government report, nef's 'centre for
well-being' has developed a set of five evidence-based actions
that, if practised regularly, can considerably improve personal
In the midst of growing economic uncertainty and accelerating
climate change, the recommended actions, based on extensive
research compiled by nef for the Government’s Foresight project
on Mental Capital and Well-Being, show that well-being does
not depend on spending money or consuming more.
With the economy in freefall, people are understandably worried
about what the future might bring. But evidence from the
science of well-being suggests that once basic needs are met,
stepping off the consumer treadmill, and taking time to develop
connections with the world and people around us will lead to
happier, more fulfilled lives.
The good news is that there are plenty of things we can all
do to improve our well-being which don’t cost money, or indeed
Nic Marks, founder of the centre for well-being at nef, said, “The
‘five ways to wellbeing’ are rooted in a wealth of evidence, and
show that there are simple, positive actions that people can
take to improve their well-being. For too long we’ve measured
the health of the nation by how much we are consuming rather
than the things that really matter, which is how things are
really going for people. Building social networks and investing
in our time and effort into things that we can do for ourselves
are just as important, if not more so, when times are hard.”
nef recommends that the ‘Five ways to well-being’ are to:
With the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues
and neighbours. At home, work, school or in your local
Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time
in developing them. Building these connections will
support and enrich you every day.
BE ACTIVE …
Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game.
Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover
a physical activity you enjoy; one that suits your level of
mobility and fitness.
TAKE NOTICE …
Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual.
Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you
are on a train, eating lunch or talking to friends.
Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling.
Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what
matters to you.
KEEP LEARNING …
Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for
that course. Take on a different responsibility at work.
Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your
Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. Learning new
things will make you more confident, as well as being fun to do.
Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank
someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group.
Look out, as well as in.
Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider
community can be incredibly rewarding and will create
connections with the people around you.
nef is an independent think-and-do tank that
inspires and demonstrates real economic well-being. Their aim
is to improve quality of life by promoting innovative solutions
that challenge mainstream thinking on economic, environment and
social issues. They work in partnership and put people and the
nef works with all sections of society in the UK
and internationally - civil society, government, individuals,
businesses and academia - to create more understanding and
strategies for change. They also strive to create new ways of
measuring progress towards increased well-being and
nef for more information in
relation to their research work on ‘wellbeing’.
The above information should not be treated as a substitute for the
medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care