Dalai Lama backs plan for happy town

07/07/2014 File photo of the Dalai Lama as he gestures to devotees before he starts teaching on the fifth day of Kalachakra near Leh, India. See PA Feature HEALTH Gallstones. Picture credit should read: AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal/PA Photos. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature HEALTH Gallstones. UK REGIONAL PAPERS AND MAGAZINES, PLEASE REMOVE FROM ALL COMPUTERS AND ARCHIVES BY 14/02/2015.
07/07/2014 File photo of the Dalai Lama as he gestures to devotees before he starts teaching on the fifth day of Kalachakra near Leh, India. See PA Feature HEALTH Gallstones. Picture credit should read: AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal/PA Photos. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature HEALTH Gallstones. UK REGIONAL PAPERS AND MAGAZINES, PLEASE REMOVE FROM ALL COMPUTERS AND ARCHIVES BY 14/02/2015.

Leyland has been chosen for a special initiative to make folk happier – and the move has the backing of the Dalai Lama.

An eight-week new course that is said to be proven to leave people happier and more likely to help others gets under way next month.

Called Exploring What Matters, it will start in Leyland to help people discover how to live a happier and kinder life.

The course has been developed by Action for Happiness, a UK-based movement of people taking action for a happier world, which has around 60,000 members.

It is secular, science-based and open to people of all backgrounds.

Paul Blundell, who is leading the course in Leyland, said: “I’m very excited to be running this course because it provides an opportunity for the people of Leyland and surrounding areas to bring more happiness into their lives and communities.

“After applying the principles of the course into my own life I have experienced positive transformation which has brought lasting inner peace and contentment.

“I am looking forward to facilitating the course to help others on their journey to happiness.”

The course is backed by the Dalai Lama, who said: “As patron of Action for Happiness I am delighted to see the work being done by members of this movement to create a happier and more caring society.

“I wholeheartedly support the Exploring What Matters course and hope that many thousands of people will benefit from it and be inspired to take their own action to help create a happier world.”

Analysis of the course has found that it leaves people both happier and more pro-social, with participants reporting increases in levels of life satisfaction, mental wellbeing, compassion and social trust.

Mayor of South Ribble, councillor Mary Green, said: “I’ve lived in Leyland for 50 years and I can honestly say, hand on heart I feel blessed to live in such a great part of the world.

“I spend lots of my time out and about in the community as mayor and residents in Leyland, and the rest of the borough for that matter, are happy and proud of where they live.

“We have one of the best parks in the country right on our doorstep in the award-winning Worden Park and some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.

“On top of that we have a wonderful community spirit, shown by the hundreds of families who turn out every year for the popular Leyland Festival.

“We really have a lot to be thankful for in Leyland and South Ribble as a whole.”

The Guardian asked folk in Leyland if it was a happy place.

Paul Reid, 51, who has worked for Mobility 2000 in the town form two and a half years, said; “I would say so. People who come in here have health problems, some are brilliant and get on with it, some are very down.

“Anything that makes somebody have a different perspective on life, if they have issues or problems, is good.”

John Chambers, 49, of Leyland, said: “I am. It can only be good. It depends what your situation is, I suppose.”

Julie Johnson, 55, of Leyland, said: “It could be better. I suppose there’s room for improvement. I’m happy.”

Chloe Arnold, 17, of Leyland, said: “There’s not many things for younger people. I’d be happier if there were more things to do.”

Samantha Kemp, 18, of Leyland, said: “It doesn’t make us happy when you see gangs on the street just dossing about.”

Linda Wilde, of Leyland, said: “It’s a very happy place. People are very kind. You can always do places up and change things. My son doesn’t like it. He moved out, but I like living here.”

Lesley Baldwin, manager of Age UK, Towngate, Leyland, said; “Yes, it’s wonderful, we’ve had a terrific response since we just opened and very much welcomed into Leyland.”

Bell Fry, of the shop, said; “It’s very friendly, very warm and very welcoming. I’m extremely happy.”

The course runs at the Environmental Education Centre, Farington Waste Recovery Park, Leyland, on Mondays from 7pm to 9pm, starting on February 29.

Local groups meet for eight weeks, with each session exploring a big question.

They start with “What really matters in life?” and then “What really makes us happy?”.

These are followed by sessions on dealing with adversity, having good relationships, caring for others, and creating happier workplaces and communities. They end with “How can we create a happier world?”

The course is delivered by community volunteers, with materials and support provided by Action for Happiness.

More than 1,500 volunteers have already put themselves forward to run the course and many are already under way with more to follow over the coming months and years.