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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 November 2005, 07:40 GMT
Path to true happiness 'revealed'
Image from The Office comedy series
Fictional Slough character David Brent in BBC's The Office enjoys a good laugh
Experts believe they have found the essential ingredients to make a person's life happier.

In an unusual three-month experiment, six specialists from a variety of disciplines worked to improve the happiness levels of a typical UK town.

The experts tried and tested 10 simple measures in the quest for happiness.

They found successful strategies included nurturing a plant, smiling at strangers and cutting television viewing by a half.

A four-part observational documentary series, Making Slough Happy, beginning on BBC Two on Tuesday, follows the team and their progress.

We will begin to change the psychological climate of Slough
Dr Richard Stevens, one of the happiness experts

The happiness team includes psychologist Dr Richard Stevens, psychotherapist Brett Kahr, work place specialists Jessica Pryce-Jones and Philippa Chapman, social entrepreneur Andrew Mawson OBE and Richard Reeves, whose expertise spans philosophy, public policy and economics.

During the series, they take 50 volunteers from Slough, with the aim of planting the "seeds of happiness" amongst this core group who will then spread their cheer to others in a ripple effect.

The 10 steps to happiness
Plant something and nurture it
Count your blessings - at least five - at the end of each day
Take time to talk - have an hour-long conversation with a loved one each week
Phone a friend whom you have not spoken to for a while and arrange to meet up
Give yourself a treat every day and take the time to really enjoy it
Have a good laugh at least once a day
Get physical - exercise for half an hour three times a week
Smile at and/or say hello to a stranger at least once each day
Cut your TV viewing by half
Spread some kindness - do a good turn for someone every day

Dr Stevens explained: "The volunteers will take their newfound skills and attitudes out into the community, and in this way we will begin to change the psychological climate of Slough."

Based on best knowledge and research, the team came up with a 10-point plan for happiness.

The experts measured the happiness levels of the Slough volunteers before, during and after the end of the project to assess if their methods were effective.

Throughout their experiment, the expert team face the challenge of selling their science to a potentially sceptical public, unprepared for their unconventional approach - from dancing in a supermarket aisle, to a spot of graveyard therapy and tree hugging.

Making Slough Happy is broadcast on Tuesdays at 9pm on BBC Two, starting 15 November, 2005.




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