Black and white photography of Solitaire Townsend

Solitaire Townsend

In 2001, Solitaire Townsend Co-Founded the Global Change Agency Futerra

5 minutes

The secret to happiness is to make a difference in the world. Whether it’s through recycling, donating blood, eating less meat, saving energy, helping a stranger or volunteering with your colleagues. Luckily, many of the changes we need to make to build a better world will improve our own wellbeing. I wrote “The Happy Hero” to prove that trying to make the world a better place, even in the smallest ways, can extend your life, improve your love-life and even help you recover from the flu!

Sounds simple, but where do you start? Everyday, we are bombarded with fear and negativity from the media and have been trained out of happiness by these stories. We all feel tiny stabs of guilt about how we treat our planet. We blame ourselves for not doing enough, and worry that, even when we do, that it won’t make a difference. But what if all that self-reproach was actually holding you back from being the hero the world needs?


POSITIVITY – Optimism is the secret sauce of saving the world. Never let anyone tell you one person can’t make a difference or we’re all doomed. Millions of people across the world are working tirelessly to change things for the better – and you’re on the team. Positive people tend to live long, have more friends and even get their messages shared on social media more often. If you’re finding it hard to stay positive – take a deep breath and remember a time when someone was kind to you. Then remember when you were kind to someone else.

PERSONALISE – We all need to make a difference in a way that suits us personally. Love fashion? Support the ethical brands. Huge foodie? Discover slow food. House-proud? Decorate with FSC wood and unique upcycled pieces. The basics are the same; renewable energy, recycling and less meat, but bring your own twist to being green. Change the world in ways that are right for you.

PLEASURE – From Swishing parties that cut fashion waste to the GoodGym that cuts your waist (whilst helping clean up green spaces). Saving the world should never be a chore. Try to make a difference in the world that feels like a joy. Too often we treat positive action as a duty rather than a pleasure. But the trick is to make it fun if you want it done!

This feedback loop between heroism and your own happiness can transform your life, and I hope that it will. But that’s only half of the magic. The other half is not about you alone, but about all of us. Because it’s not only individuals who can be changed by happy heroism. Whole societies can have an underlying ‘zeitgeist’ or ‘collective unconscious’. And the way we talk about our prospects as a country or community can subtly (or sometimes quite obviously) affect how we all act.

Be it green energy, fair-trade, electric cars or sustainable farming. So many of the changes the world needs will also make things cleaner, fairer and more awesome. When you change your mind-set about living green and all the things you felt you had to do – you’ll start actually wanting to do them.

Too often we treat positive action as a duty rather than a pleasure. But the trick is to make it fun if you want it done!

This is the road to major payback. Take this path and we’ll all change – a lot. But every change will come with its own reward. It’s smart to search out solutions to big social and environmental challenges. It’s smart to think positively and hopefully as you make a difference. It’s smart to get together and work as a team. And it’s smart to try new things and explore opportunities for doing good to be good for business and individuals. This is the happy-hero pathway, and many are already taking it. It’s the smartest choice, but not always the easiest, because it means radical change.

That’s why your attitude about the world is important, for you and for all of us. Because your positivity and optimism won’t only affect your own life, it could affect the lives we’ll all get to lead. The ripples of your happy heroism will be felt throughout society. And if enough of us start feeling optimistic about our future (and act optimistically), then a better future is exactly what we’ll get. That’s why it’s so important to believe that tomorrow can be better than today. And find ways to make that happen.

Right now you can chose to do something, even something small, to make a difference. So, Superheroes, what are you waiting for…?