To Live, or Not


(Sarah Hague) #1

According to a group of eminent British thinkers, pioneers of a new movement Action for Happiness (which has 4500 members in 68 countries), these are the 10 secrets of happiness as published in the Telegraphtoday:




  1. GIVING


    Do things for others - volunteer to work for a charity in your spare time

  2. RELATING


    Connect with people - get in touch with friends with whom you have lost contact

  3. EXERCISING


    Take care of your body - go for a run.

  4. APPRECIATING


    Notice the world around - take time to appreciate wildlife in your area.

  5. TRYING OUT


    Keep learning new things - learn a new language.

  6. DIRECTION


    Have goals to look forward to - make resolutions and stick to them.

  7. RESILIENCE


    Find ways to bounce back - learn from defeats to do things better in the future.

  8. EMOTION


    Take a positive approach - focus on the happy moments of your life rather than the sad.

  9. ACCEPTANCE


    Be comfortable with who you are - do not dwell on your flaws.

  10. MEANING


    Be part of something bigger - join a society or club.





    The group Action for Happiness is led by Lord Layard, Professor of Economics at the LSE, and focusses on the importance of connecting with those around us, and feeling part of a community. It’s backed by the Dalai Lama, Alain de Botton and numerous mental health charities. They are obviously taking this very seriously, as well they might given the disintegrating nature of society and feeling of ‘last days of the Roman Empire’ decadence.





    According to Claude de Milleville, these are the 10 Commandements pour être heureux as shown on Doctissimo:







  11. Make peace with yourself

  12. Spread a little joy around you

  13. Accept your moods

  14. Count your blessings

  15. Avoid obsessing about all the gloom and doom in the world

  16. Listen to others

  17. Cultivate your friends

  18. Accept your past

  19. Find meaning in your life

  20. Preserve your liberty





    It was hard work finding a list of happiness in French. They seem to prefer moralising stories and long articles in the press. Ms de Milleville is not an eminent thinker as far as I can make out, but gives seminars on the secrets of numbers, dream interpretation and tarot. Still, her list, while predominantly navel-gazing, is not dissimilar to the other one although it misses out on the concept of giving which is a major source of happiness according to the eminent thinkers.





    My own experience of charitable work here has been that you organise an event to raise money for a worthy cause like the Ligue Contre le Cancer, and lay on a buffet and drinks. You invite professional types and those with money to spare. They arrive, fall on the buffet like they haven’t eaten for a week, drink the stocks dry, ignore the charitable aspect of the evening and go home relieved and proud they haven’t had to get their chequebook out. This happened on every occasion whatever the setting. I’m told it’s typical of southern France (by the French).





    So, yes, I can understand why there is no ‘giving’ on the French list even though any money they donate can be used to lower their taxes. The other problem is that many associations indulge in ‘charity business’ where they are a charity in name only, which does tend to sour people to the idea of giving money. Obviously if you know that your hard-earned donation is going to ‘Administrative Costs’ this is hardly likely to increase your levels of happiness, likewise if you are trying to help but get told your help is taking paid jobs away from others you won’t ask twice (which is what happened to a friend of mine).





    On the other hand, I read that there is a link between the level of social charges and the amount of money donated. The higher the level of social charges taken by the government, the lower the amount of money given to charity. The article also says that people are much keener to engage in voluntary work as proved by the levels of participation in the annual Telethon which raises money for neuromuscular conditions and other rare illnesses. It takes place in December when we’re all supposed to be in a giving frame of mind although I’m usually struggling to pay transport costs to the UK, presents, and dealing with catch-up taxes.





    If you live in France, are you part of an association that raises money for a good cause? Are you aware of much activity outside the Telethon? I ask because I see very little advertising for charitable events and unless you are personally affected by something and are thus involved, it’s easy to remain unaware of the level of voluntary work going on.





    Best stick to having fun, counting your blessings and spreading a little joy over a cool refreshing rosé while in France I reckon… As for being part of something bigger, the less I see of the inside of organisations and their committees the better. Cheers!

(Jane Williamson) #2

I don’t want to start up a shelter, I just want to raise some money. I have started to make a few enquiries with a french friend who is on some committes in Cluny and should know what goes on around here. It was his sister that told me that the french are not good at raising money for charity.


(Sarah Hague) #3

Good luck, Jane. As you can see from the table, the French don’t give money and don’t like fund-raising events.

If you start up a shelter, make sure you do it as an Association 1901. You can find out all the info you need on starting one from the Prefecture. There’s loads and loads of paperwork to wade through. Surprising, huh?


(Jane Williamson) #4

I am very keen to fundraise for a good cause, I am thinking of a group of women helping other women. This could be a local women’s refuge (do they have them in France) or girls, say, in India who have been abandoned simply because they are female. I ran a group in Gloucestershire to raise money for Victims of Torture, we raised over £10,000 in two years by holding Summer picnics with a concert. However, my french friend says that the french do not understand fundraising and having been to our local Telethon, I can appreciate that. Lots of cakes nobody wants to buy! Like you, I would appreciate some friendly words of advice from who has successfully managed to start a fundraising group.
Two of the most uplifting things I have done are to study Reiki and become an attender at the Cirencester Quakers. They are some of the most interesting people I have ever met, and if you are looking for meaning in your life they will welcome you. There is a Quaker group in the SW of France, but if anybody knows of Quakers in the south of Burgundy, can they please let me know.


(Jacqueline Brown) #5

Spring time always makes me happy! :slight_smile:


(Suzanne Fitzgerald) #6

I’d agree with the 10 secrets of happiness, though I’m not sure I’d share all of Claude’s.


(Sarah Hague) #7

Funny how it’s the Happiness season! Must be the Royal Wedding rubbing off on us all…


(Jacqueline Brown) #8

I read and then wrote about something similar last week;
http://web.me.com/tournesol_bp/The_French_Village_Diaries/Blog/Entries/2011/4/8_Secrets_to_Happiness.html
Our village always does a Telethon meal and it is always well attended, but like you say apart from that and school fund raising we don’t see many ‘charity’ events around here.