How does one get happy? Is happiness an event, an occasional fleeting blip, an illusion?

Does wealth or celebrity status contribute to feeling joyful rather than the absence of pain or loneliness?

Perhaps it's a matter of saving souls or scoring goals.

Whatever happiness means to the individual, it seems to be a constantly moving target which, when eventually reached, usually evaporates.

In a fast-moving era, the elusive feel-good factor is seldom on tap.

That's why we seek solace in alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, recreational drugs and antidepressants.

It is estimated that, in this country, 200 million alcoholic drinks are consumed every year and three million Ecstasy tablets consumed every week.

Perhaps the idea of needing an instant fix reflects an increasingly desperate sense of isolation among people.

What if it were possible to pop a happiness pill that was natural, healthy and safe as well as entirely legal?

Patrick Holford, the well respected nutritionist and author believes it is wiser to choose supplements that sustain energy levels than stimulants that drain reserves.

He has written a new book called Natural Highs, with Dr Hyla Cass, which explores the usage of psychoactive substances and examines the crucial role of brain chemistry.

Holford says that if we help our brains to be happy, we can feel great most of the time, more connected with family and friends, nature, culture and community.

According to Holford, it is possible to influence the way we feel by providing the brain with key nutrients without the same high risk of side-effects from more commonly abused stimulants and drugs.

The nutritionist has formulated his own range of supplements that include combinations of vitamins, amino acids and herbs, such as kava kava, sceletium and rhodiola.

These are supposed to increase energy, sharpen the mind, improve mood or bring relaxation, depending on which formula one chooses.

Holford begins a nationwide lecture tour in October to launch his book and will be in Brighton on Tuesday, October 23, at the Quality Hotel, West Street, from 6.45pm 9.45pm.

To buy a ticket, at £7.50 per seat, call 0208 8712949 or visit his web site on

Certainly, Holford's concept is intriguing. At times, it may be desirable to change one's mood at will with a pill.

If one were to follow his advice, one might expect to see people less harrassed and more in tune with their surroundings.

And if I had a teenager, I would prefer them to experiment with a natural high rather than something less savoury.

I can't help thinking, though, of dire consequences if all and sundry suddenly started walking around in a permanent state of euphoria.

Longer term contentment usually involves some degree of contribution or commitment.

But if natural stimulants motivate us to think of the greater good without being just another form of escapism, pass me the pot.