What if you devoted the whole of 2019 into being happy, no waiting to be happy, no waiting for the magical unicorn which you think will make you happy. What if you were simply happy for the next 365 starting today?

What is happiness?

“Happiness is many things to many people. It can be lots of small pleasures, a general feeling of contentment or that moment when the heart soars.”

Dictionary definition of happiness….

A sense of well being, joy or contentment.

Happiness – the facts….

  • The hippocampus is the area of the brain responsible for happiness.
  • The neurotransmitter serotonin which is synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan helps to stabilise mood and regulate sleep patterns.
  • The neurotransmitter dopamine also helps control emotional responses and the brain’s reward and pleasure centres.
  • Together serotonin and dopamine are a mood-boosting team that makes us feel happy and balanced.
  • You can increase your levels of serotonin and dopamine by including turkey, eggs, dark chocolate and green tea into our daily diet.

Ways to boost your happiness….

  • Twenty minutes outside in the sunshine boosts your mood and increases levels of happiness.
  • Exercise produces proteins and endorphins which interact with opiate receptors, giving you a natural high.
  • Positive thinking is like dominos rolling, once you set off on a positive train of thought it will gather momentum and speed until you reach your destination of happiness.
  • Give yourself a morning pep talk. Use affirmations to set the tone of your day ahead. Say your chosen affirmation out loud, emphasising the words. Say it like you mean it.
  • Live in the moment and yes that means putting your phone down.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. Keeping the company of optimists increases your personal happiness/ This is because positive emotions have a ted=ndency to rub off on our mood.
  • Reconnecting with nature is good for mind, body and soul. It elevates mood, helps combat depression and improves self-esteem.
  • Express gratitude, stress hormones such as cortisol are 23% lower in people who show gratitude. The same people are likely to produce more oxytocin, the hormone associated with love and feeling good.
  • Give more hugs, the hormone oxytocin is released into the bloodstream when we hug. This happy hormone does a number of things, from reducing stress and anxiety to lowering blood pressure and improving memory.
  • Turn up the tunes, just try to frown while listening to upbeat songs, I dare you! Jamming out can help reduce stress—which leads to greater happiness in general. Plus, research shows listening to music with the goal and desire to become happier may actually lead to greater happiness than simply listening for the sake of listening. So the next time you pump up the volume, keep that positive intention in mind—you may just find yourself smiling a little wider.
  • Take up a new hobby, not only is it mentally stimulating (not to mention fun), but challenging yourself to learn a new skill can lead to greater happiness, experts say. That’s thanks to the feelings of accomplishment and self-confidence that often come along with gaining new expertise. Consider this your cue to sign up for those French lessons you’ve always wanted to take, or pick up the ukulele—choose something that genuinely interests you, and run with it!
  • Sleep more, catnaps, power naps, a full night’s sleep… no matter the method, a quality snooze session is vital for overall well-being and happiness. In fact, research shows that not sleeping enough (four hours per night) may lead to lower levels of optimism. And other studies show skimping on sleep can damage our on-the-job performance and academic performance
  • Mediate, though meditating can sometimes be daunting (quieting your mental chit-chat is tough work!), there are tons of health benefits associated with the practice. Research shows that eight weeks of daily meditation can lead to greater happiness.
  • Learn to let go, adopting a hakuna matata outlook can boost overall happiness. Easier said than done, to be sure, but making a point to detach yourself from mistakes, worries, and regrets may lead to more lighthearted times. In fact, holding onto resentment and hurt feelings can tie you to the past and also marks a decision to continue suffering. Make the choice to be happy by forgiving people who hurt you and moving away from situations from your past that brought you down.
  • Practise self-care daily, given the manic pace of day-to-day life, it’s easy to forget about taking care of yourself—and that’s a surefire way to end up unhappy, burnt out, and even ill. Try treating yourself to regular actions that improve your overall, long-term health and happiness.

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