Mark is the CEO of Action for Happiness, a movement designed to helps people increase wellbeing in their homes, workplaces, schools and local communities. His journey of awakening from a typical middle-class ‘go with the flow’ mentality to sharing a stage with the Dalai Lama is one that sets him apart.

Mark is a very thoughtful and considerate man.

When he applies himself to a task he does it consciously, he does it with care, deep thought and diligence.

The fact that the movement he’s helped build is so focused on action . . . is why we so admire him and his team of volunteers.

Richard Layard may be the inspiration behind Action for Happiness but Mark is the person that’s made it happen. In this conversation, you’ll get a taste of why and how.

Show Notes

We've known Mark and Action for Happiness for many years but this conversation was different. Here we learned about Mark's sometimes painful journey into the world of social entrepreneurship. It was a real pleasure to talk about:  
  • Big questions such as "What really matters in life?"
  • What happens when you climb the ladder of success only to find you're climbing the wrong ladder
  • What it takes to help people experience and create a happier world
  • How our leaders have forgotten to focus on the greatest happiness for the greatest number
  • Why measuring GDP at a national level and personal wealth at an individual level does not measure success
  • How Coca Cola have cheapened happiness
  • Why the feeling of happiness is so universal but what makes us happy can be so different
  • The benefits of the Stoic philosophy of choosing how we react to situations  
  • Changing ourselves when we are no longer able to change the situation
  • The importance of 'meta cognition' aka 'noticing how you feel' as the first step to doing something about it
  • The role of the Dalai Lama in the Action for Happiness movement 
  • What it means to live a good life and care about each other
  • The Dalai Lama's secularism and his sense that we need to create a new way of being 
  • Consumerism and why it's such a poor substitute for purpose and a shared humanity
  • The trials and tribulations of growing up in a loving Malvern family
  • Noticing a depressed peer in the year above and using it as the motivation to study
  • His ten years as a management consultant where he focused on the money but wasn't proud of what he did
  • How he had neglected the emotional side of life 
  • The power of the 'good life crisis' and how it can help provide direction
  • How Mark's increasing emotional discomfort with his work turned into a constant physical pain 
  • Mark's low point when he was diagnosed with a degenerative hereditary spinal disorder and faced the prospect of a wheelchair in his 40's
  • 'Back Sense', his wife's gifted book that prompted him to think himself free of pain
  • His interest in the placebo effect
  • How his MBA allowed him to slowly understand himself and the human condition 
  • The importance of Kate, Mark's then girlfriend and now wife, in helping him do something different
  • The struggle of bringing oneself to work versus knowing when to stop when you do
  • The options that come with a frugal life
  • The difficulty and the power of listening to your gut
  • Meeting Neil Crofts and answering his three questions:
    • What are you really good at? 
    • What are you passionate about?
    • What makes you angry?  
  • The angst of leaving The Carbon Trust and a job he loved for the challenge of Action for Happiness 
  • Life as a recovering people pleaser
  • Following the energy when deciding where to put your own energy
  • The future of Action for Happiness  
  • Why personal success and community success is not a zero sum gain / why me and we are the same thing

Creators & Guests

Neil Witten
Entrepreneur, Business Advisor, Podcaster @lifedonediff, Co-Founded @StoryStreamAI now building & You only get 1 go, live consciously 🏂
Ray Richards
Converting small steps into the unknown, into the known
Home of the podcast. Inspiring interviews with people who go against the grain & live their lives differently. @nwitten & @rayrich

What is

Do you wonder whether there’s another way?
Another, more creative, more meaningful approach to living your life. Well there is and there’s a growing movement of people from all kinds of walks of life who are proving that the way we end up doing what we do in life is often a side effect of external forces. Rather than a deliberate, conscious and authentic set of choices that have come from you and your unique needs. What are you chasing? Success? Safety? Fame? Fortune? Recognition?
Have you stopped to think recently why you’re doing what your doing with your life? Are the stories that you're creating today the ones that you hope your grandchildren will be telling to their children? Are you creating your legacy?