Back in the summer, I began a curacy (which means that I am a trainee vicar for three years) at St Mary with St Alban in Teddington. Since then, I have been asked the following questions many times, “Do you like Teddington?” and “Are you happy here?” I am glad to say that the answer is a resounding,
“Yes”, both my husband and I really like Teddington and are extremely happy here; but being asked so often meant that I began to reflect upon why that might be.

Over the past few years a “World Happiness Report” has been produced which measures six areas in order to assess the happiness of a country: national income per head of population, life expectancy, whether you have someone to turn to in times of trouble, having the freedom to make life choices, how likely you are to donate to charity, and whether your country is free from corruption. The UK came quite low down on the list at number 21, with Switzerland coming in at number 1. As part of the report, ten simple steps were developed that can be taken which are said to “consistently tend to make peoples‟ lives happier and more fulfilling”. These are:

  1. Do things for others
  2. Connect with people
  3. Take care of your body
  4. Notice the world around
  5. Keep learning new things
  6. Have goals to look forward to
  7. Find ways to bounce back
  8. Take a positive approach
  9. Be comfortable with who you are
  10. Be part of something bigger, which has meaning and purpose

Interestingly, when you read through the list, you can see that a lot of the suggestions exist around the area of community, highlighting that we are generally more content when we are involved with other people. For those of us at St Mary with St Alban, suggestion number 10 is key, since, in  belonging to the church, we are part of something much bigger than ourselves, looking up to God and out to others. This is why community plays a significant part in our values and why we hold events like the Rugby World Cup Fete on 27 September: to bring the community together in a shared time of fun. Although I have only been living in Teddington for a few months, it is clear that it‟s a place where people value community; I think that this is one of the reasons why it feels like a happy place to live.

Gabby Thomas