THE Bolton News and the University of Bolton are carrying out a social experiment to find out what makes people happy.
The first survey of this kind in the UK was carried out in the borough in 1938 as part of the groundbreaking Mass Observation Project.
Now, more than 75 years, the people of Bolton are once again being asked what makes them happy. The Bolton News is running a week-long series of features on the theme of happiness.
Today, we look at religion.
THE Vicar of Bolton Parish Church believes lasting happiness is about contentment and peace.
Canon Matt Thompson took up his appointment in 2008, replacing Canon Michael Williams, who had retired.
He said: “Happiness means many things to many people. It can be about pleasure in people and things, about good human relationships, absorbing activities, achieving goals, having a meaning and a purpose to your life.
“Happiness can be found in some or all of those things. To me, lasting happiness is about contentment and peace.”
Mr Thompson said that religion was at the heart of how he lived his life.
He added: “Faith is central to how I live my life, the things I do, the choices I make and how I look at the world and other people.
“Loving God and loving my neighbour is for me what life is all about. When I am doing those things, or trying to, then I find that I am happy.
“I have seen people become happier as a result of finding faith especially if that has happened as part of coming through a tragedy or a really difficult experience.
“On the other hand I have known some miserable Christians and plenty of happy atheists.”
When it comes to achieving happiness in his daily life, Mr Thompson said: “Very simply, I don’t try. Happiness is not something to chase after. It becomes very elusive if you do that.
“I live my life and try to live out my calling and this makes me happy. One of the gifts of religion is that it encourages you to pray and meditate.
“There is a good deal of happiness and peace to be found in prayer and meditation if it is practised consistently.
“But religious faith as a set of beliefs doesn’t make for lasting happiness.
“It is only when those beliefs are internalised and lived out to the full, that you discover that you are happy on the inside almost all of the time, irrespective of whether good things are happening to you or not.”
- What makes you happy? Complete our quick survey here.