Can politics make you happy?

If you're inclined to tune out when talk turns to politics, maybe it's time to tune in


Can politics make you happy?

As a child, I spent more than one weekend as an honorary member of the camp at Greenham Common. According to new research, this could have been good for my health, because there's a link between happiness and political activism.

Researchers Malte Klar and Tim Kasser interviewed students, and found that those most inclined to go on a demo also had the highest levels of optimism. They also found that engaging in a 'brief activist behaviour' gave people significantly more feelings of subjective vitality – which, despite being  bit of a mouthful, sounds like a pretty good thing.

When was the last time you went out and waved a banner to defend something you loved? Many commentators claim we’re an increasingly indifferent and disconnected society. But, as we reported way back in 2008, there's a growing number of activists online.

'We've always lived in a world where sharing anything beyond family and friends is related to work and play,' Professor Clay Shirky told us. 'That's all changed with the internet. There's always been the urge to nurture and help, but now you can do that globally and for free.' We're becoming accustomed to global movements starting online. So, in the spirit of sharing, changing the world, and boosting your personal happiness levels, here are three of my favourite sites for armchair activism. Feel free to make your own suggestions in the comments below.

Avaaz, which means 'voice' in many different languages, runs global campaigns you can sign up to.

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation thinks we should start small.

• If you haven't yet seen the wry Bill Nighy and Richard Curtis take on the Robin Hood tax, watch it here. Then sign up to help them spread the word.

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