Finding happiness during the coronavirus crisis

Despite the coronavirus pandemic and the devastation it has been causing, many people are rediscovering that elusive quality, happiness.

Our presenter Kylie Pentelow caught up with Sir Anthony Seldon, the founder of Action for Happiness, and asked him what was the secret to a happy life during Covid-19.

Kylie started by asking, "Do you think this is a tough time to be happy at the moment?"

There is the anxiety about 'Will I have a job?' and 'Will I have any income?' and 'How are my parents?' I think it's always difficult and it's difficult in different ways but I think the principles of how to make oneself happy are true in the good times and in the bad times.

Sir Anthony Seldon, Action for Happiness
ITV West Country presenter Kylie Pentelow interviews happiness expert Sir Anthony Seldon via video link. Credit: ITV West Country

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Kylie asked Sir Anthony what we should be doing right now to ensure that we try to stay happy. His organisation "Action for Happiness" has come up with ten different ways that we can make ourselves happier.

They've been given the title, "Great Dream" so they can be easily remembered.

Credit: Action for Happiness

G is for Giving

People's generosity and kindness have been watchwords of the pandemic and Sir Anthony says they make us feel good too.

Who would have thought that the more we give of our time, of ourselves, of our attention, of our love to others the better we feel?

Sir Anthony Seldon

Kylie wondered if, given all the acts of kindness we're seeing at the moment - such as this one by Bristol actor Joe Sims - people could actually be happier 'living in lockdown'. Sir Anthony says it depends on what one does:

If one is living in lockdown and sitting on one's pile of gold bags and doing nothing and getting in touch with nobody and living for oneself then you will be utterly, utterly miserable.

Sir Anthony Seldon

R is for Relating

Sir Anthony says this is the most important source of happiness for all of us. He says, "Where our relationships are good - with our partner (if we have one), with our family, with our friends, at work - the better we feel. The more they are bad or even toxic, you cannot feel happy."

In terms of having a close, loving relationship, a sense of harmony with others and with the special people in one's life - well that is the biggest source of happiness in almost everyone's life

Sir Anthony Seldon

E is for Exercise

Scientists have shown that exercise makes you feel good - it releases endorphins that improve well-being and help you sleep better. Sir Anthony urges us to "get outside and stretch" - or just do a brisk walk - three times a week.

If you get the heart rate up for 20 minutes, three times a week it will make you feel happier.

Sir Anthony Seldon
Credit: ITV West Country

You can find out more about all Ten Keys to Happier Living by heading to the Action for Happiness website.

Kylie Pentelow says she has felt closer to her family during the lockdown than ever before - and she has modern technology to thank. She and her relatives have a weekly quiz - and even dress up for them.

Kylie asked Sir Anthony whether there is a way to continue that closeness when the lockdown is relaxed and there will be no more need for video conferencing and social platforms. Sir Anthony replied, mentioning the camaraderie during the First World War.

Soldiers in the trenches during the First World War. Credit: PA

It's easier when we have a common enemy to unite and to come together and I think the trick when we do come out will be to do it without a common enemy.

Sir Anthony Seldon
Sir Anthony says we can find happiness in simply experiencing nature. Credit: ITV West Country

Sir Anthony tells Kylie that he is not dismissing the suffering brought by Covid-19 but it's important to find the "upsides".

"When again will we have - I hope never - this enforced period of lockdown? So make the most of it and everybody will find that actually that enhances one's happiness and it gives pathways, ideas to find that fulfilment even after this is over".