The Happy Hero

By Solitaire Townsend

How to change your life by changing the world

196% funded
172 supporters

Publication date: Autumn 2017

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Everything from Super Patron Paperback level plus a one-hour Happy Hero workshop for any business, book-club, school group etc. Including multi-media, Q&A and group exercises. (In London or mutually agreed location) Only 5 available.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Still have a question? Visit our Help Centre to find out more.

What if saving the world was good for you?

That’s my promise in The Happy Hero. That you can be happier and healthier simply by making a difference to the world around you. I call this formula ‘positive+action’, and after decades of researching, writing about and living positive+action I’ve become convinced this the answer to enjoying a better life. I want to tell you stories of the people who have already discovered this secret. And set out the principles for how to feel good by doing good.

Which sounds simple. Except that there’s so much that needs to change, where do you even start? Everyday our media finds another international crisis or health scare, another predator or disaster. We are subject to an overwhelming barrage of fear and negativity each time we open our phones or switch on the TV. We have been trained out of happiness by these stories and turned into the victims of our own lives rather than the heroes. The Happy Hero will offer a simple solution: stop worrying about the world and start making it better. Because new research shows that trying to make a difference, even in the smallest ways, can extend your life, improve your relationships and even help you recover from a cold! And luckily, many of the changes we need to make to build a better world, we should want to do anyway. In The Happy Hero I’ll share the emerging evidence of how heroism can make you happy. I’ll also provide practical examples for getting started.

This book will even take on the most intractable and complicated problem facing all of us: climate change. And we’ll discover how solving it will solve so much more. The UK’s top medical journal recently reported that the best way to protect your heart and slim your waistline is to count the carbon rather than calories in your food. The US Military insists that renewable energy will make our countries energy independent and help reduce conflict by providing cheaper sources of power to the poorest. In our own lives, we know that saving energy simply saves money. Together we can cut even huge challenges like climate change down to size. And every step and every action will come with their own reward

Please help me make The Happy Hero happen. We have a world to save. Capes and masks are optional.


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35 pledges

Digital Patron

Ebook edition

Buy now
$25  + shipping
47 pledges

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1st edition paperback and ebook edition

  • Solitaire Townsend avatar

    Solitaire Townsend

    Solitaire has been trying to make the world a better place for nearly 30 years. As co-founder of the ‘change agency’ Futerra, she advises governments, charities and big brands like Danone and Nike on ways to solve social and environmental problems. With Futerra offices now in London, Stockholm, New York, San Francisco and Mexico City she admits that making the world a better place was a damn good business plan. You can watch her TEDx talks online and read her in the Guardian, Huffington Post and more often on twitter. She was once even profiled in Harper’s Bazaar; but they didn’t let her keep the clothes. Solitaire was named ‘Ethical Entrepreneur of the Year’ in 2008 and more recently was Chair of the UK Green Energy Scheme, a member of the United Nations Sustainable Lifestyles Taskforce, and a London Leader for Sustainability. Her master’s degrees in both Shakespeare and Sustainability are put to good use in the book. As is her love of Star Trek.

    Solitaire would like you to know that yes, she thinks it’s a pretty name too. And no, she wasn’t named after the Bond girl.

  • A girl smiles and waves jubilantly at the photographers. She’s 13 years old, with mousy hair tousled by the wind. With one hand she’s clinging onto the brick monument she’s just clambered up, her white pixie boots a little scuffed from the climb. In her other hand, she carefully clasps a packet of cheese and onion crisps. And she’s just saved the world.

    In the springtime of 1987, the popular local newspaper, The Bedfordshire Times, splashed a photo of that grinning teenager across their centre pages. Usually their big story was of a cat rescued by firemen or the ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new shopping centre. But that week, the sleepy English town had been the focus of national interest. After years of political arguments, scientific controversies and local protests, a large nuclear waste company, ominously called Nirex, had announced they were cancelling plans to build a nuclear waste ‘deep storage facility’ in the town.

    The local families who had fought so hard against the nuclear dump were taken by surprise. In a flurry of overnight activity, they built a small brick monument at the site where Nirex had been planning to store tonnes of radioactive waste. Then, as the photographers watched, the families began to accept their success and cry, hug and celebrate. The young girl in the photograph had been swept up in the emotion and scrambled up the bricks. No one really minded the scuffmarks or spilt crisps, because most of the people there also felt like climbing, shouting and punching the air. Small folk aren’t supposed to beat big corporations, and everyone was a little dazed.

    I’m the girl. And thankfully my mum kept the news-clipping and had it framed for me. Today it hangs above my desk, and whenever I look up at it, I can vividly remember that moment. I was still a normal teenager, at least on the outside. But that photo captures the moment that my life changed. Because that was the first time I truly experienced how good it is to make a difference. Up on those bricks, with my dad’s steadying hand on my ankle, I felt like a superhero who had saved the world. Since that incredible flash of joy, I’ve had years to read a veritable mountain of books on the value of having ‘purpose’ in your life. Each of them analysing and trying to pin down that experience. Why does it feel so good to do good? Why do so many successful people leave high-flying careers to pursue purposeful work that helps others? I believe most of the books miss an important feedback loop in making a difference. They assume that ‘purpose’ is almost an indulgence, or a spiritual need. But in a world which feels totally overwhelming, where fear and worry can leave even the most successful people sleepless and anxious - taking positive action builds a sense of control. And that sense of impact and ‘rightness’ has a tangible physical and emotional value. In a world of fear, being a hero can save your life.

  • Solitaire Townsend has written 3 private updates. You can pledge to get access to them all.

    9th October 2018 Are you a Gold, Brick or Green?

    It’s The Happy Hero’s first birthday! And what a year it's been: reviews in The Sunday Times and Guardian, speaking at the Hay Festival, support from Ellie Goulding, launches in London, Stockholm, New York and Tokyo. And yesterday Radio 4 asked for ‘happy hero’ advice for people to act after the big new report from the IPCC.

    Have you had a chance to read the book and discover if you’re a Gold,…

    8th April 2018 The Happy Hero On Tour

    The Happy Hero is going to the Hay Festival (courtesy of the wonderful Martin Wright)

    I'll be joining the SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL…OR IS IT ANYMORE? panel with Kevin McCloud and Juliet Davenport on Thursday 24 May at 7pm. Will any of you gorgeous pledgers be there? Please come and say hello if so.

    We're also planning a Swedish book launch in early May. If you're in Stockholm May 7th please let me…

    24th February 2018 Help Please You Happy Heroes!

    My dearest darling pledgers.

    Have you enjoyed The Happy Hero? Who else might enjoy it?

    With one click you can help others find The Happy Hero - by reviewing it on Amazon:

    Click Here To Review

    It's been wonderful hearing feedback from folk I know (and many I don't) about how the book has affected them.

    One word reviews are particularly welcome! Amazon algorithms don't read the content…

    21st November 2017 Spot The Happy Hero...

    We're getitng The Happy Hero out there! 

    Please review on Amazon - share on social media - write a blog - and tell your friends


    8th October 2017 Let's get going!

    Launch day is almost here! On this Tuesday (10th October) The Happy Hero will be 'officially' available in bookshops and online. Your copy should already be winging its way to you.

    Lots of press and radio coverage is lined up promoting the book, kicking off with this lovely piece in The Sunday Times today.

    Apparently, this is where the real work starts - and I need your help! Remember - everyone…

    27th June 2017 Are we there yet?

    Very nearly.

    The book was written. Then got written a bit more.

    There were a few tears, professional levels of procrastination and a fair amount of rum.

    The development editors (with great compassion) then suggested 'umm, maybe write this a bit more and stop saying 'nevertheless' so much'.

    The rum was nearly enough.

    The book was written.

    Then the poor copy editor needed a little lay down after…

    17th December 2016 We have an Action Advocate!

    The wonderful Anna-Kajsa Lidell co-founder of Food for Progress has become our Action Advocate! She's the extraordinary change-maker behind Oumph - the most awesome veggie food on the planet.

    Seriously - this stuff is utterly yummy, healthy and good for the environment. Fuel for happy heroes!

    15th December 2016 Hello Heroes!

    Thanks for coming to visit my Shed. Imagine some comfy old sofa's, warm lighting and hot cocoa brewing on the wood-fired stove. Perhaps there's even a little music playing on the vintage gramophone hidden in the corner. 

    You are welcome in our little hero hideout!

    Please pop by to hear how the book is progressing. Chat about the themes and stories. And perhaps post some cheesy jokes to cheer…

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