Today is International Day of Happiness and it is a good time to ask yourself what makes you happy. The official website www.dayofhappiness.net states that:

We are surrounded by people, yet we feel genuinely connected to almost none of them. The effects are devastating. Social isolation is as potent a cause of early death as smoking; and the epidemic of loneliness is twice as deadly as obesity.

Today or in the future you can improve your well being by doing something kind for others, volunteering your time, energy and skills or getting to know your neighbours better. I have written about volunteering to give you some ideas of where to start but a kind word or gesture as simple as holding a door open or smiling can go a long way. I have been lonely in my life and this has led me to think about how I became less lonely and more connected and happy. It took friendship and helping others to give me a sense of belonging and purpose.

I found myself moving to a new area, about to get married and making changes to my career. I looked around and felt lonely. I still had lots of friends but they were miles away and living different lives. I was about to start a new life with even a new name. My husband to be looked on the internet to find me things to do and discovered Reading Valley Ladies Circle and he said ‘hey Louise they are just like you they like karaoke and murder mysteries too’. I didn’t know anyone at my first meeting and I must admit I felt nervous. They collected me from my house and were so warm and friendly I felt at home. With a glass of wine in hand I was soon chatting to lots of interesting women that I wouldn’t have been talking to if it wasn’t for this club.

After I got married I went back to the meetings that were twice a month and got to know everyone better. Within weeks I went on a weekend away to the South Coast and laughed like I had never laughed before. I was hooked and had a whole new social life. Not long afterwards I was invited to a ladies lunch with a lady called Fiona. There were women who had been Area Chairman in the past and they had a reunion lunch every year. One lady had been Area Chairman the year when Fiona was born. We laughed but that heritage of ladies finding friends for nearly 80 years was astounding and I felt part of something bigger, a true sisterhood.

I found myself doing more in the club and become Area Chairman myself for a year. You see the thing was I got to try lots of things in our meetings. Going out, rock climbing, dinner parties, weekends away, spa treatments, crafts and trying new things like Belly Dancing. On top of that I was learning new skills like organising events and raising money for local charities. My Circle did so much for charity and Fiona found me some volunteering opportunities which led to a whole new career for me. I even helped organise an event at Eton Dorney a London 2012 Olympic venue, and got to sit next to Kathryn Grainger who went on that year to win Olympic Gold only months later. My new friends ran Race for Life with me and even lent me baby things when I had my first child.

I have since moved up North and the first thing I did was to find my nearest Circle and now I am a member of Cheadle and Gatley Ladies Circle and yes we have been on a spa weekend already. I knew some of the members because Ladies Circle is an International organisation and we had met in Bruge at an International conference. Circlers all over the world are there to help you out and extend the hand of friendship.

That is why Circle Makes Me Happy. ‘Fun, friendship and Fundraising’ is our motto and you can have all of those things in bucket loads while meeting like minded young women who you may never have met otherwise. I finally feel like I belong and that has made me happy.

Find out more here: www.ladiescircle.co.uk www.facebook.com/ladiescircle.media @LadiesCircleGB