21st Sep 2020
In these, the most uncertain of times, the notion of even the simplest ideas of what it means to be happy has changed. Never again will we forget the happiness that comes with a hug from our loved ones, a buzzy Sunday brunch with friends or a family gathering to celebrate a birthday. The virus has, for now, put such things on pause. But, as a positive, it has also made us realise how much of our daily lives we took for granted, so that we’ll not do so again. When this is all done, normality will resume, but we’ll be a changed nation.
We’ll know what can be taken away by quicker than we ever imagined, but we won’t let it lessen our want to be happy. Perhaps we’ll just be content with the simpler things and know that sometimes, reaching for the stars, for all those bright and big things in life, begins right at home, together. We’ll soon smile and laugh more than we ever did, and below are 10 scientific facts about happiness to remind you that it usually always comes from the unlikeliest of places
Bright colours can really help
According to a 2010 study out of the journal BMC Medical Research Methodology, bright colours go hand-in-hand with happiness. And the colour that the happiest people favour? Yellow, of course. Luckily, there are so many ways you can wear it.
Happiness boosts your immune system
Did you know happiness can help boost our immune systems? Research published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found people who have more positive emotions are less likely to develop the common cold. The World Happiness Report also found that happy people live longer, are more productive and earn more.
Happiness is linked to your sense of smell
A study from the journal Chemical Senses found that the scents of vanilla and clementine boosted people’s moods, with the vanilla scent inducing a more relaxed positive state and the clementine creating happy stimulation. And According to a study by Rutgers University researchers, those who are exposed to floral scents are about three times as likely to be happy.
Being outside makes you happier
In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor recommends spending time in the fresh air to improve your happiness: “Making time to go outside on a nice day also delivers a huge advantage; one study found that spending 20 minutes outside in good weather not only boosted positive mood but broadened thinking and improved working memory.” The Journal of Global Environmental Change also affirms that being outdoors makes people happier. Even though we are limited in how far we can go, don’t forget to get that walk in daily for a lift to your equilibrium.
Mastering a skill makes you happier in the long run
A study found that people who engage in behaviours that increase your natural skill set, for example at work, school or the gym, experience decreased happiness in the moment, lower levels of enjoyment and higher levels of momentary stress. Despite the negative effects felt on an hourly basis, participants reported that these same activities made them feel happy and satisfied when they looked back on their day as a whole. This surprising find suggests that in the process of becoming proficient at a particular skill, your happiness levels increase overall.
Some happiness may be inherited
According to researchers from the University of Minnesota, a portion of your happiness is inherited. The researchers performed a study on pairs of identical twins, and found that at any given time about half of their happiness was correlated to genetics.
Happiness can be a pain reliever
A 2005 study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology looked at women who suffer from arthritis and chronic pain. According to the study, those who experienced more positive emotions — happiness, enthusiasm etc — were less likely to experience pain.
The right kind of retail therapy can bring you joy
Research has shown that buyers are generally more happy when purchasing an experience — like tickets to a concert — than when purchasing an object. We’ll be able to do all this and more when the pandemic has passed.
Pets make you happy
If you have a dog, you know how loved you feel when your dog jumps for joy at the mere sight of you, but there’s medical proof that your dog is good for your health. Dogs keep you company, force you to walk, lower your blood pressure and are great date magnets. Even looking at your cat curled on top of your computer can reduce your chance of a heart attack, reduce anxiety, and improve your mood
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.”
Photographs: Pexels, Unsplash
Read more: 5 simple things that can inject a little more happiness into your day
Read more: The real secret to happiness and why it seems harder to find these days
Read more: ‘Happiness is not something that happens to you. It’s something you have to choose, everyday’
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