Happiness is a highly sought after commodity in contemporary life. Stress, the fast pace of living and the demands of balancing career and personal life can grind down on even most resilient amongst us. However, with a few easy tricks you can go to your happy place no matter how down you are.
I know this is the oldest, most tired and cheap cliché in the book. In reality, though the body has a physiological response to the action of smiling. It actually creates a loop between the brain and the specific facial expression. The brain tells the body to smile in response to something positive, the body then tells the brain that something positive is happening so it should feel good. Weird. Not only that but smiling has also been shown to
help alleviate anxiety during social situations, reduce stress overall and it might even help you live longer. Ok, that last statement isn’t completely true, but a study by DePauw University psychology professor Matthew Hertenstein found that people that smiled in their yearbook photos actually went on to be more successful in both their professional and personal life.
#2 Keep it Grey
This has nothing to do with 50 Shade of Grey; instead it concerns ambiguity. Many times unhappiness is the result of feeling trapped or unable to change the things that perturb you. “I’m never going to get my dream job” is a very absolute statement; ‘never’ last time I checked is pretty concrete amount of time. “I’m never going to get my dream job, but I really enjoy the job I’m doing now, and the people I work with are pretty awesome” is a much more hopeful internal statement and allows just enough wiggle room for a little hope. This modification can actually have a physical, observable result on brain structure.
I’ve even written an entire article about poses that help increase your confidence and assertive nature that you can read. This is also a little bit of a loop like the smile effect; when you’re not happy or stressed you tend to fold in on yourself. A primal defense mechanism to protect your internal organs, because your brain thinks you’re in danger. If you push out your chest, pull back your shoulders and straighten your back, your body will tell your brain: “Relax we’re good!” Strange, strange body…
I’m not talking about mystical cosmic healing waves produced by forest nymphs and fairies that live in the trunks of trees; I’m talking about the actual health benefits of being in nature. First being in the sun helps produce vitamin D, which assists in the absorption of calcium, zinc, phosphate and magnesium, which keep various systems in the body working correctly (remember the body-brain loop?). Also, the average urban environment is a veritable cornucopia of pollution from seemingly innocuous sound pollution to deadly vehicle emission pollution. I said innocuous because although sound pollution doesn’t seem to directly attack any of the body’s major systems it has been shown to affect neurological and brain functions. Some researchers have even said it can shorten people’s life if they are constantly exposed to it.
This is a method that has been used for millennia in South and East Asian countries, based on acupuncture and chakras. Look at this very informative video on tapping yourself to happiness.
What methods do you use to keep yourself happy? Your thoughts and comments below please...