Think happiness, and apply the wisdom of Aristotle

You might be under the impression that the reason you get up in the morning is to relieve poverty, promote human rights or protect the environment. But according to Acevo, your charitable mission is actually far simpler: making people happy.

In a new report called Wellbeing, Happiness and Third Sector Leadership, the chief executives' body argues that the pursuit of happiness is the voluntary sector's unique selling point and that the Government should recognise its contribution to the nation's wellbeing.

The report was written by Nick Aldridge, departing director of strategy and communications at the organisation, who cites John Stuart Mill, John Maynard Keynes and Aristotle in his quest to define happiness.

The Greek thinker's concept of eudaimonia - a focus on personal development and character that enables people to live rich, rounded and rewarding lives - might not feature on many charities' mission statements, but Acevo suggests it is what a lot of charities do.

Aldridge refers to the fact that many charities deliver soft, intangible outcomes, such as raising self-esteem, that are not always priorities for public sector commissioners in thrall to the tyranny of numbers and hard, measurable outcomes.

Acevo wants the government to support the charity sector's work to promote quality of life and recognise the value of wellbeing-centred approaches to service delivery, especially in health and schools.

The document's conclusion is that the nation would be happier and public spending could be reduced if more private and public sector organisations adopted the values of the voluntary sector.

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