Advice / Commentary / Reflection

6 Actions That Will Make You Happier

Everybody is talking about well-being…but nobody seems able to explain clearly what it really is. Ask people and you’ll hear “Umm, its about not being sad, and uh, meditation?”

So is it just the latest buzz-word? Actually no, research shows that there are simple actions that you can build into your everyday life that can help you to be happier and reduce stress.

The University has introduced a wellbeing strategy, that defines the Manchester Ways of Wellbeing, we’ll look at how these line-up.

Wellbeing Bingo

I have been introducing the Manchester Ways to Wellbeing during PGR induction workshops this autumn; I ask participants to put their wellbeing hats on and look at where they spent their time and energy:

Me: Did anyone get a bingo? That is one activity that fulfils all 6 of the Manchester Ways to Well-being?

Participant: Cooking with my flatmates

So what is it about cooking with friends/family that makes it such a tonic? Food and cooking are connected to our physical health and well-being in various ways. As well as being directly mood enhancing, cooking is usually a gratifying and relaxing experience. The social aspect of preparing and eating food gives us feelings of belonging and inclusion. All of the 6 Manchester Ways to well-being are fulfilled by preparing and sharing food with friends:

  • Connect When it comes to well-being other people matter (ref Chris Patterson).

Sharing the joy of cooking is a great way to share a positive emotional experience with your loved-ones.

  • Learn and Discover Sharing cultural knowledge and passing on recipes.

My friends are from all over the world, I learn about the food that they cook at home, and it improves my cooking skill. I also get to eat some great food.

  • Be Active

Getting ingredients and preparing food is a more physical leisure activity than watching the television or using social media.

  • Take Notice

There is much to appreciate when you prepare and enjoy a meal with friends – the communal sense of achievement when the meal is ready, relishing the banter and the laughter, cherishing the sense of fellowship.

  • Give

One of the joys of cooking is that it gives pleasure to others. Additionally, cooking your own food from scratch allows you to be more environmentally sustainable by controlling and reducing the amount of waste you produce.

  • Be Healthy

Home-cooked food allows you to be healthy because you can know exactly what’s in the food you eat.

Sum Up

So here is what research says will make you feel good and function well:

Connect: Make an effort to relate to other people.

Learn and Discover: Be open to new learning experiences.

Be Active: Find a physical activity you enjoy. Go outside.

Take Notice: Ask what am I grateful for? (Answers are not necessary just searching helps).

Give: Look out as well as looking in, Think about how you can connect your happiness to the wider community.

Be Healthy: Look after yourself, respect your body, make healthy choices.

So that is the simple way to maintain or increase your happiness and protect yourself from stress.

Resources to Kickstart Your Wellbeing:


Societies Joining a society is a brilliant way to meet new people who share your interests and enrich your time in Manchester. There are over 400 societies at Manchester.


Meetup – interest groups of all different types:

Learn and Discover

The counselling service runs wellbeing workshops every week on topics such as relaxation and mindfulness.

Look in the training catalogue personal and professional development opportunities:

Be Active

SPORTICATE – FREE sport for all staff and students each week at The University of Manchester. The sessions are aimed at beginners so it doesn’t matter if you have played a sport before or not

Take Notice

Do a 3 good things exercise each day to cultivate your ability to appreciate the good in your life.

Practice mindfulness to increase your ability to observe and reflect on your thoughts and feelings. Small bites of mindfulness are also an effective way to destress:


There are many ways you can get involved with social responsibility. Some of these ways are detailed on the social responsibility webpages:


For volunteering opportunities see:


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