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Happy Cafe FAQs

This page provides answers to a range of Frequently Asked Questions relating to Happy Cafés. If you're interested in getting a local Happy Café going, please start by reading these.

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What is a Happy Café?

A Happy Café is a café that is part of the Happy Café Network created by members of the Action for Happiness movement. It is a place where those seeking happier lives for themselves and others can connect with each other over a coffee and learn science-based skills for enhancing psychological wellbeing. These skills are set out in the Ten Keys to Happier Living, which include developing good relationships, doing good for others, taking a positive approach, trying out new things and being comfortable with who you are.

What is Action for Happiness?

Action for Happiness is a rapidly-growing movement of people taking action for a happier and kinder world. Since its launch in 2011, millions of people spread across 170 countries have engaged with its ideas and hundreds of thousands have joined the global community. The central idea is simple, but profound: people commit to living in a way which creates more happiness - both for themselves and for others too


The movement is secular, science-based and open to all. The movement's Patron is His Holiness the Dalai Lama, whose universal messages about happiness and kindness resonate with people of all backgrounds. Its co-founders are economist Professor Lord Richard Layard, social innovator Geoff Mulgan and educator Sir Anthony Seldon

How many Happy Cafés are in Network?

More than 30 cafés in many parts of the UK and beyond have joined the network since it was set up in October 2014. They can be located on an interactive map on our Happy Café page.

Happy Cafés have also been set up in Italy, Germany, Romania, Canada, Costa Rica, Cambodia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Australia. Many more are in prospect. Happy Cafés are also being established in schools, universities, and community centres. A large company is planning to turn their in-house cafés into Happy Cafés.

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What marks out a Happy Café?

Happy Cafés are identified by having a Happy Café sticker in their window announcing they are part of the Happy Café Network. Inside the café you will find leaflets explaining the Happy Café concept, postcards summarising the Ten Keys to Happier Living, guidebooks explaining the Ten Keys in more detail, colourful posters inspiring you to put the Ten Keys into practice and badges which you can wear to connect up with others. There might also be a selection of relevant books which can be browsed through at the café and various wellbeing activities might be staged there.

Happy Cafe Sticker

How can I start a Happy Café?

The simplest and most common way to start a Happy Café is to find an existing local café - with a similar ethos and supportive café owner - and invite them to join the network and turn their cafe into a Happy Café. You can use this Invitation to Become a Happy Cafe to share the idea with them. As an incentive you can point out that this could attract publicity for their café and put them on an interactive map potentially reaching hundreds of thousands of Action for Happiness supporters. We can also encourage AfH members living near a successful Happy Café to visit it.

An alternative - and more complicated - way is to take over an empty café, shop or community building and turn it into a Happy Café, possibly with the help of some social enterprise, local authority or crowdfunding. Useful sites for raising funds include KnowHowNonProfit and Crowdfunder. Another less expensive option is to rent space for a "pop-up" Happy Café which can be made more permanent if successful. An agency like Appear Here can be used for this purpose. 

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Is there a charge to join the network?

We want the Happy Café concept to spread as far and wide as possible. There is no charge at present for the Starter Pack and downloading the resources. However we are a small non-profit organisation and a donation to cover expenses would be greatly appreciated. There will also be a modest charge for any replacement stocks. The only requirement for joining the network is adhering to the Action for Happiness mission and ethos, which is summarised in this message from the Dalai Lama:

Dalai Lama Message

What are the next steps?

Once you are in a position to start a Happy Café, a Starter Pack will be sent to you consisting of window stickers, Ten Keys postcards and guidebooks, and Action for Happiness badges to be worn at the café. There is also artwork available online for printing the Action for Happiness posters and Happy Café flyer in   printable or   print-shop ready formats. At this point, or after a launch event for the café, your Happy Café will be placed on the interactive map on our site.

Happy Cafe Page 1    Happy Cafe Page 2

What can be done at a Happy Café?

On a day to day basis, people can meet up and browse through literature as described above, perhaps putting their thoughts on a "What makes me happy" or "Gratitude" wall. There can also be scheduled meetups, say once a week, which will increase the chances of making connections with like-minded people. These can involve more structured, hosted conversations revolving around the Ten Keys to Happier Living or other related topics which are of particular interest to those present.

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Other activities that can be organised at a Happy Café include:

  • Running the 8-week Action for Happiness Exploring What Matters course
  • Talks on different themes relating to wellbeing - e.g. resilience, relationships, positive psychology, compassion, measuring happiness
  • Watching relevant TED talks or videos from the Action for Happiness YouTube channel
  • Screening Happiness-related movies (we can recommend a selection)
  • Wellbeing board games (we have an excellent one from California)
  • Experiential activities (e.g. mindfulness, meditation, yoga, neck massage)
  • Speed-relating, modelled on speed-dating (we'll show you how)
  • Other group activities, such as colouring, singing or fun events

Who hosts events at a Happy Café?

If the café owner is not available or willing to host Happy Café activities and events, hosts can potentially be found from local Action for Happiness members and from those attending the café. For example, a notice can be put up at the café where those interested in joining the group and in playing an active part can leave their contact details. We have hosting guidelines and are currently considering other ways of attracting volunteers for this job.

There is no requirement for organised events at Happy Cafés - and these cafés can still be a place for connecting with other people and focusing on how to live a happier life. However, having organised events obviously helps and make a big difference in terms of engaging people and building a local community of like-minded people.

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How are Happy Cafés promoted?

You can attract people to a Happy Café firstly by organising a Launch Event. To maximise the publicity for the launch, you can approach your local newspaper or broadcasting channel as they tend to be very keen on positive stories like this. Here are examples of local news coverage and broadcast coverage.

Social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Meetup, Streetlife etc) can also be used to spread the word about Happy Cafés. Also our introductory Happy Café leaflets can be left in various public places (e.g. libraries, colleges, bookshops, health shops, community centres, doctor's surgeries etc.). Being on the Happy Café map on our site will also help raise awareness about the café.

Happy Cafe Banner


Why is this worth doing?

By being part of the Happy Café Network, café owners are supporting a great cause and will hopefully also gain extra customers through their connection with Action for Happiness. Local Action for Happiness groups, in turn, potentially gain a venue for their activities at the café and encourage more people to join the movement.

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Happy Cafes spread positivity

Pos News Pic

Action for Happiness' Happy Cafes spread positivity around the UK

(Positive News, May 2015)


Ten Keys to Happier Living

Great Dream 200

See the full set of posters


Connect with people

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London's first Happy Cafe

Ruth Canvas

The Canvas cafe aims to improve wellbeing and self-esteem in the capital

(Huffington Post, March 2015)

Book: Ten Keys to Happier Living

Ten Keys Book Packshot

Order your copy of our inspiring, science-based book and discover how to live a happier life and help create a happier world.


Do things for others

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Lucy's story

Lucy Roberts 2

Find out how Lucy used ideas from the Ten Keys to Happier Living to help deal with depression and anxiety: Read Lucy's story

Telegraph HHDL Article

Can you teach yourself to be happy in 8 weeks? (Telegraph magazine, 9 Oct 2015)


Afh Gathering 2

Check out the latest news on the roll-out of our "Exploring What Matters" course in communities across the UK and beyond


Be part of something bigger

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Happiness is contagious

Our happiness influences the people we know and the people they know.

Research shows that the happiness of a close contact increases the chance of being happy by 15%. The happiness of a 2nd-degree contact (e.g. friend's spouse) by 10% and the happiness of a 3rd-degree contact (e.g. friend of a friend of a friend) by 6%.

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Together we're stronger

Having a network of social connections or high levels of social support has been shown to increase our immunity to infection, lower our risk of heart disease and reduce mental decline as we get older.

Not having close personal ties has been shown to pose significant risks for our health.

click to view

Positive emotions make us more resilient

Our emotions affect our long term well-being. Research shows that experiencing positive emotions in a 3-to-1 ratio with negative ones leads to a tipping point beyond which we naturally become more resilient to adversity and better able to achieve things.
click to view

Happier people live longer

Happiness doesn't just feel good. A review of hundreds of studies has found compelling evidence that happier people have better overall health and live longer than their less happy peers.

Anxiety, depression, pessimism and a lack of enjoyment of daily activities have all been found to be associated with higher rates of disease and shorter lifespans


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