MAKING SLOUGH HAPPY
BBC TWO – TV Programme two: 22 November 2005 It's three weeks since the six happiness experts arrived in Slough and began trying to raise the town's happiness levels by using tools and techniques from the new 'science of happiness. Analysis of the scientific data reveals that more reserved cultures, such as Britain's, are less happy than more relaxed cultures. With this in mind, psychologist Richard Stevens visits Slough high street to orchestrate a handholding exercise designed to highlight the power of touch.
Why is touch important? Richard Stevens explains: "Touch is the basic language of love. What does a child do when they're in distress? Look for a cuddle. Adults are no different. The right kind of touching has been shown to increase feelings of wellbeing. Even touching someone lightly on the arm makes them more likely to like you, and be more responsive. A cuddle a day will keep the blues at bay." Meanwhile, Richard Reeves takes his smile campaign to a local supermarket to try and get shoppers to really lose their inhibitions and not just smile at each other but dance with each other in the aisles!
Why is it important to interact with strangers? Richard Reeves explains: "Being more open to each other, smiling or having a laugh makes for an improved social climate and better days for us all. But we're conditioning ourselves and our children to be afraid of each other, which is atomizing our culture. Stranger danger is being massively overdone. I think that the danger posed by 'stranger danger' campaigns is now much greater than the danger of strangers." With inhibitions being shed across the town, Richard Stevens feels the time is right to introduce some of the volunteers to this ultimate form of self-expression.
Why does dancing make you happy? Richard Stevens explains: "Dancing has wonderful potential to increase your sense of wellbeing. It exercises the body, increases the flow of feeling and rhythm through the music. It connects you with the other people you're dancing with. It is particularly powerful. It encourages creativity and spontaneity and the feeling of being in a community. There are no steps to learn. Your movements are inspired by your deep emotional response to the music and to the others around you."