Life can be beautiful, and it can be challenging, too. In either case, strong relationships and a sense of community can help to carry us through. 

Life’s joyful moments can be much sweeter if we have people around to share them with, and the painful moments easier to bear if we do not have to face them alone. I am not only talking only about romantic relationships; friendships, family and wider community bonds are invaluable. Building these over time is good for yours and others’ health and wellbeing.

In April I attended the Happier World Conference in London. This was an incredible event, filled with inspiring people keen to be a force of kindness and happiness in the world. One of the many amazing speakers at this event was the Network of Wellbeing’s Chair of Trustees, Satish Kumar. In his talk, Satish outlined the importance of community and shared his experiences of building happier communities, through his work at Schumacher College and Resurgence. The core message of Satish’s talk was that in order to build community we should follow these three rules:

1. Don’t criticize; cultivate gratitude…

Often, we have the tendency to focus on the negatives over the positives, but criticism can be very damaging to our relationships. Satish urged that if we want to offer constructive criticism we should balance this with gratitude. “If you want to give one criticism to someone, then you should balance this with five things you appreciate about this same person”, Satish said.

2. Don’t compare; celebrate…

It is easy to look at what others have or what they’ve achieved and use this as a reason to feel badly about yourself. However, if you want to build strong relationships and communities you also need to take care of and value yourself. Do not get lost in comparing yourself to others. Instead, focus on celebrating yourself and this will help you to also celebrate and support others, too. “When you love yourself you have energy, and then you can help others”, said Satish.

3. Don’t consume, create…

“Being a consumer is a royal road to unhappiness”, said Satish. Instead, we should focus on exploring our imagination and creativity. Satish passionately urged us to connect with our inner artist, saying, “an artist is not a special type of person; every person is a special type of artist!”

Creating a Happier World

Satish’s presentation was among the many inspiring talks and workshops shared at the recent Happier World Conference. To find out more, you can read the following blog posts about the event and follow Happier World Conference on Facebook and Twitter:

Huge thanks to all those involved in this amazing event. Thanks also to Maggie Bakir (Moontop) for her brilliant photographs of the event, used to accompany this post.