What’s the secret to happiness? Yoga? Family? Freedom? Just what is the secret to happiness and wellbeing?

We put the question to the people – and you might be surprised by what they said …

‘It’s appreciating that no one and nothing has control over your happiness, living in the present and appreciating and being grateful for all that you do have. Write down and visualise your blissful life. Focus on what you want and have, rather than what you don’t have or long for. Giving is the key to receiving.’
Marie Gould, life coach and director of happiness at Mind Over Matter, 47

‘Trying to have a positive attitude about everything, even if its a situation you don’t want to be in. You’re more likely to have a positive outcome.’
Katie, student, 18

‘Happiness is self generating and I think you have to recognise and remember to enjoy the small, everyday things that give you pleasure. For example, I enjoy preparing and eating a nice lunch. It’s pleasing to simply put different ingredients together – it doesn’t have to be complicated – and it means my husband and I take a break from work. It’s a pause in the day.’
Jan Cooper, psychotherapist, 78

‘It’s being so immersed in an activity that you forget yourself. Whether you achieve that individually or by joining a group, it’s that sense of creative bliss, where you are in the moment and you and the world around you disappears.’
Lisa Barton, pastoral mentor, 35

‘Being free without people telling you what to do. Playing football makes you happy too, because you can just have fun and you’re not working. Also being in nature without cars and engines – just birds. They’re the cars of the forest.’
Billy, 8

‘Surrounding myself with people that I love, doing things that make me happy and learning to love myself – even my faults.’
Keziah, student, 18

‘For me, happiness is about paying attention and noticing what we already have and already are, rather than striving and planning
what’s next.
‘My favourite quote is “Sometimes it’s ok if the only thing you did today was breathe”. It reminds me of the incredible gift of existence and keeps me in the moment. We don’t have to be “doing” all the time, there is a lot of happiness in “being”!’
Kelly Smith, counsellor, 38

‘How I am now is completely different to how I was, but for me, happiness is knowing I’m in control of my own life, having a happy home, being able to watch my children grow into confident, happy individuals fills me with pride. That’s a big worry after what they saw when they were growing up.
‘Not living treading on eggshells makes you appreciate every day. I saw a quote a year after I’d left the relationship and it struck home with me. It said: “The secret of happiness is freedom, and the secret of freedom is courage”.’

Mandy Davies, survivor of an abusive relationship, 50

‘I find joy in the small things: watching a bird in flight, lambs being born in the small hours in our shed, the dogs playing, my vegetables – growing or not! Happiness can be found anywhere, as it comes from within.’
Sue Marcantonio, Shaman, 61

‘I believe the key to happiness is the freedom to continually “realise you” in all the ways you want. There are as many keys to happiness as there are hearts in the world. Balance between time with other people and time alone is really important for me, being able to work, practice yoga, walk and dance, fresh air, being in love, learning, good food, fun, creative projects like
Arta Ahura and feeling connected
and appreciative. ’
Mireille Thornton, writer and owner of Arta Ahura, 39