This Friday (FriYAY) morning, we thought we’d start things off on a happy note. Happiness. We relentlessly seek it, but more often than not, it makes itself known when you least expect it; in the doing of everyday things. These things – both big and small – can lift us when we’re feeling blue but, it’s the simple changes made to your daily habits that will significantly reduce the chances of you waking up on the wrong side of the bed. Doing any of these five things should lead to a happier and healthier you:
Firstly, remember happiness is contagious
Smile —it’s contagious. We catch emotions from one another according to the Framingham Heart Study. Your happiness impacts your friend’s happiness, [which] impacts your friend’s friend’s happiness, whom you may never have met, [which] impacts your friend’s friend’s friend’s happiness. Happiness and emotions radiate so think of the thing that will make you happy today – ten Starbucks coffees (sorry, not sorry), a weekend lie-in – and get grinning.
Exercise for 20 minutes in the morning
We know, sometimes morning exercise can be a travesty (same), but it really will make you feel better. Yes, we have science and research to back us up. A study from the University of Bristol shows that people who exercise on work days are more productive, happier and experience less stress than on non-gym days, and Gretchen Reynolds, Phys Ed columnist for The New York Times, said that the first 20 minutes of moving around provide the most of the health benefits – you get prolonged life, reduced disease risk – all of those things come in the first 20 minutes of being active. The journal Global Environmental Change also affirms that being outdoors makes people happier, so there’s your excuse to buy new fancy gym-going gear this weekend.
Hug at least eight times a day
A Psychotherapist named Virginia Satir is famously quoted as concluding that: “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance, and we need 12 hugs a day for growth.” Conclusion: we all need more hugs. Yes, studies have suggested that if you want to feel happier in your day to day life, you ought to be hugging up to eight times per day. Not only will you experience oxytocin, but you’ll also reduce your blood pressure and your cortisol (the nasty stress/anxiety hormone), particularly if you’re a woman. Interestingly, women benefited more than men in this instance. Further conclusions from this particular study in the journal of Psychosomatic Medicine say that this will reduce our risk of heart disease. Cuddle therapy is something worth taking up in 2017.
Surround yourself with happy people
This is an expansion of contagious happiness, whereby fellow happy people naturally increase your own feelings of joy. Researchers at Harvard and University of San Diego, Dr Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, found that each additional ‘happy’ friend increases a person’s probability of being happy by about 9%. They studied 4,739 people from 1983 to 2003. To the surprise of no one, their research showed that happy people tend to be in large clusters of other happy people.
Do something nice
Life’s too short to spend it being a grouch to others. It’s nice to be nice. Acts of kindness boost happiness levels. Something as small and simple as making someone smile works. Pausing to do something thoughtful has the power to get you out of that negativity loop. Focusing your energy on another person takes you out of yourself and your negative frame of mind and can act as an important reminder that the world won’t end because of a bad day. Remember, you can start again tomorrow.