John William Tuohy (The name "my writer's site" was taken so....)
John William Tuohy lives in Washington DC
Welcome to Britain’s first happiness cafe
need to feel blue in Brighton - just pop into the happiness cafe
• By Rachel Argyle, Daily Telegraph
may be Blue Monday, the gloomiest day of the year (at least according to one
travel company’s publicity campaign), but not if you live in Brighton.
first “happiness cafe” opened late last year in the town’s Emporium — a
theatre, bar and exhibition space housed in a former church. It was set up by
local members of Action for Happiness, a national movement that says it aims to
promote emotional well-being based on the latest scientific research.
emphasis is on positive relationships and helping others, rather than always
being on the look-out for ourselves. So what makes the cafe a particularly
happy one? Do the customers receive service with a smile? Do the hot chocolates
come with lashings of cream and marshmallows?
Is there, at
the very least, uplifting background music? The cafe does have a welcoming
vibe, but more than that, its supporters say the space offers a chance for
people not only to socialise but to learn about staying mentally healthy.
leaflets and books about mental wellbeing abound, all with the emphasis on
positive psychology — the branch of the science that focuses on a meaningful
life. As well as being open to the public, the space is used by the 700-strong
Brighton branch of Action for Happiness for meetings, hosting guest speakers in
the field of positive psychology, happiness workshops, therapy and more.
aim is to help people connect.
are a social specis,” explains Dr Mark Williamson, the national director of the
group, “and the most striking finding from all of the research on happiness is
the vital importance of our relationships with other people.”
inspiration behind the cafe came from Brighton member Stan Rosenthal, a retired
civil servant with a longstanding interest in wellbeing research.
came to me after attending many Action for Happiness events where I learnt
about what makes people happier but had little time to indulge in one of the
key components of happiness — connecting up with like-minded people,” he says.
fill that gap by giving happiness-minded people more time to really get to know
each other over a coffee while reinforcing their commitment to living a happier
life for themselves and others.”
He hopes it
offers a sanctuary for the victims of today’s stressed-out society in which one
in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year. Action
for Happiness plans to roll out the idea in other parts of the country too, so
it looks like “happy cafe” culture is set to spread.
dismiss such talk of happiness and “connection” as so much waffle, but mental
health charity Mind is quick to speak up in favour of the social interaction
the cafe provides.
sociable and connecting with other people is rewarding in its own right and can
help improve mental wellbeing,” says Sam Challis, information manager at the
and a lack of friendships can contribute to mental health problems, such as
anxiety and depression, so taking up opportunities to share problems with
people who have similar experiences can be invaluable. In an age dominated by
social media and with ever greater pressures on time, face-to-face contact with
people who can provide meaningful and supportive relationships has never been