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We have just enjoyed the festive season when we give and receive best wishes for a “Happy (or Merry) Christmas” and a “Happy New Year.” Such sentiments are often exchanged without reflecting on what we are really saying. We are wishing – and being wished – happiness.

But what is this thing called “happiness”? How do we recognize it when it is there, and how do we find it when it isn’t? In recent years, there has been an increased interest and engagement with these questions. From personal happiness, through happy couples, families and communities, to what makes a happy society, research is being carried out to find evidence and answers.

Richard, Lord Layard, has been at the forefront of this study and his work in this field is world-leading. As editor of the World Happiness Report, he has overseen the landmark survey of the state of global happiness that ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be. The World Happiness Report 2019 focused on community, how happiness has evolved over the past dozen years, with a focus on the technologies, social norms, conflicts and government policies that have driven those changes.

Richard Layard is also the author of what is regarded as a key book in happiness studies. Happiness: Lessons from a New Science looks at the paradox at the heart of our lives: “There is a paradox at the heart of our lives. Most people want more income and strive for it. Yet as Western societies have got richer, their people have become no happier.”

For Home Renaissance Foundation these questions are both relevant and timely. We believe that the work that goes into creating and maintaining a home has a direct connection to the happiness and well-being of both individuals and society as a whole. This is echoed in recent findings from the Happiness Research Institute that 73% of people who are happy at home are happy in life.

We are delighted therefore that Richard Layard has agreed to be a keynote speaker and scientific committee advisor for our next conference: Happy Home, Happy Society? The contribution of domestic life in a time of social changes to be held in London 12- 13 November 2020.

Invited speakers and selected paper givers from across the world and the wide-field of disciplines concerned with “happiness” and the domestic context will seek answers to some increasingly urgent questions: How can our homes be places for life-long flourishing? How can this be supported and enhanced? In a time of increased technological connection why is there so much individual social isolation? Are SMART homes happy homes? In a time of increased homelessness what is happening in the early home experiences of the homeless? How can we all find a home to be happy in?

“We desperately need a concept of the common good. I can think of no nobler goal than to pursue the greatest happiness of all – counting every person,” says Lord Layard.

At Home Renaissance Foundation we believe the home is a common good which needs to be recognized, supported and valued. For more information on this please see our Conference website.

Rosemary Roscoe is editor of BeHome, the Home Renaissance Foundation’s blog, where this article was originally published. 

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is a New Zealand journalist with a special interest in family issues. She began her working life as a secondary school teacher but always fancied the life of the scribe. Too late, she...