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International Day of Happiness

International Day of Happiness

This Saturday marks the annual International Day of Happiness. The theme this year is ‘Keep Calm. Stay Wise. Be Kind’ this theme has obviously come about in response to the ongoing COVID pandemic. But let’s take a moment, as when you look at these statements its bloody good advice regardless of the day. 

Having a specific day to celebrate happiness is great as the greater the awareness the more ok it becomes to talk about things like our emotions, mental health and so forth.

What is this years themes?

The 2021 Theme of ‘Keep Calm, Stay Wise, Be Kind’ are great everyday ideas to live by. When you stop and really look at these ideas too, they are simple things that while only small can make a huge difference to your overall happiness mindset.

Keep Calm. 

There are lots of things outside our control. Let’s remember to breathe and focus on what really matters so we can respond constructively. I still swear by Pranayama breathing.

This is where you breathe in for 4 seconds, hold it for 4, breath out for 5. This stops your cortisol production, which causes your fight or flight stress response. When you’re in fight or flight, your body shuts down many other non-essential parts of the body until you are far enough away from the sabre-toothed tiger to be safe. That’s why that big breath out at the end of the day is relaxing because it gets your gut bacteria working again

Stay Wise.

Making wise choices helps everyone. Let’s choose positive actions that support our well-being and help others to do the same. A really good mantra I try to practice when staying wise is to THINK before I speak, and no I don’t just mean my usual thoughts but considering what I’m about to say and if it is actually giving value. 

THINK stands for the following questions. T Is it True, H is it helpful, I is it Inspiring, N is it Necessary, K is it kind? I find that if what I’m about to say doesn’t fit here somewhere then it’s probably best I just keep it to myself.

Be Kind.

We’re all in this together, even when we were forced apart. Let’s stay connected and reach out to help others who may be in need. Last year showed us just how important human connections are and given the nature of the pandemic we were forced to find new ways to connect with people and to show kindness.

It’s important as we return to what is now our new normal we don’t forget the kindness we found and were shown at the height of the pandemic last yearI’m not talking major random acts of kindness, although let’s be honest these are great, I’m talking about simple day to day things that are kind and don’t cost a thing.

Let that driver in. Smile at people, say thank you and mean it, open a door for someone. It’s proven that these simple acts of what some might just call good manners often cause ripples of kindness as the next person feels a bit brighter because you were kind to them. Guaranteed you will at least get a smile, with a sprinkling of happiness. Which in turn will bounce off them to you and then will often bounce to the next person – Go on try it and see. 

So my advice to you is not only this Saturday, but every day be sure to keep these 3 simple ideas for International Day of Happiness at the front of your mind, to ensure every day brings you closer to overall happiness.

And if all that fails, drink wine. 

6 happiness habits – that take 5 minutes

6 happiness habits – that take 5 minutes

Now is a great time to reflect on the past year, and man what a year that was. January is a great time to reflect and think about what it is you want to change. While I don’t personally advocate for new years resolutions as such, I am a fan of creating new habits. Here are some simple and easy ways to make small but powerful changes to your everyday life in 2021. While i’m not promising instant happiness, these are some great habits that will help to create a greater sense of happiness over time.

One: Pranayama breathing

Breath in for 4 seconds, hold it for 4, breath out for 5. This stops your cortisol production, which causes your flight or flight stress response. When you’re in flight or flight, your body shuts down many other non-essential parts of the body until we are far enough away from the sabre-toothed tiger to be safe. That’s why that big breath out at the end of the day is so relaxing. A little more information:

  • Pranayama breathing app – free.
  • Gabrielle Bernstein Podcast – 5 min meditations while breathing to help you focus on particular aspects of happiness: love, letting go, forgiveness, focusing, etc.

Two: Gratefulness

Happy people are not always grateful, but grateful people are always happy.[1] While you do your breathing exercises, breath in all the things you are grateful for, and breath out all the judgement and grudges you are holding onto about other people [2]. This allows you to be more in the moment, you become more curious with people you meet or spend time with, and you will be more liked overall. As Tony Robbins said, “you can’t be grateful and angry at the same time”. [3]

Three: JOMO – The Joy Of Missing Out

(The opposite of FOMO – the fear of missing out)[4].  With all that we went thru in 2020, there was a lot of missing out.  This has definitely created a wave of people who are now comfortable with the JOMO and feeling good about spending time with friends or family or just kicking back to enjoy a good book.  These activities and changes create happiness when there is nothing to compare it too.  By turning off your social media feed for 1 day at a time,  then 2 days, or just by keeping tabs of your time on social media, you can alleviate the pressure that forms as fear of missing out.  There are apps that can block or time your use as well.  Fear of missing out is a form of anxiety, and social media exacerbates this, [5]

Four: Take a good multi-vitamin

So much research is showing fruit and vegetables just don’t have the same nutritional value they did years ago. We need to top up our intake, but many of the multi-vitamins on a shelf don’t have enough of what we need and too much of what we don’t [6]. The best I have found is NOW multi-vitamins on iherb.com (this is not a paid endorsement, just good stuff). They are about 5-10 times stronger than ones being sold in supermarkets, which are so low in V&M they’re barely worth it. They are still a bit low in Magnesium, Zinc, Vitamin C and Niacin (Vitamin B3), so if you need a top-up for optimum happiness take these as well. Just for fun, print off the Now multi-vitamins levels and then take them to the supermarket to compare with other vitamins. This will open your eyes to the other dodgy vitamin companies trying to sell you an expensive bottles of not much!

Five: Help someone

Volunteering has been shown to be an incredibly powerful anti-depressant [7], so look to sign up to volunteer, or help a friend/neighbour with something, as it triggers the brain to give you a shot of the feel-good chemical dopamine. Empowering yourself helps create resilience, and helps prevent helplessness and hopelessness, two key depression problems.

Six: Dig in the dirt

There is a bacteria in healthy soil called Mycobacterium vaccae that boosts serotonin levels in the brain similar to the levels of antidepressants, improving your mood, reducing anxiety and it boosting cognition [8]. You need to get your hands dirty every 3 weeks to keep them in your body.[9]Also, have you met an unhappy gardener? True happiness is an abundant garden. Why not check out 20 ways to detox your body and mind

References:

  1. TED Talk – Brother David Steindl-Rast: Want to be happy? Be grateful. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtBsl3j0YRQ
  2. https://blog.bulletproof.com/detox-your-thoughts-to-supercharge-your-life-gabrielle-bernstein-455/
  3. Tim Ferris Podcast #186: Tony Robins. “You can’t be grateful and angry at the same time.”
  4. Trello article on JOMO; https://bit.ly/2C5KFbC
  5. Christina Crook; The Joy of Missing Out http://www.christinacrook.com/jomo/
  6. http://www.doctoryourself.com/saulslurry.html
  7. https://blog.bulletproof.com/social-activism-health-benefits/
  8. https://blog.bulletproof.com/talking-dirty-spiritual-plants-microbial-biodiversity-426/
  9. https://www.colorado.edu/today/2017/01/05/study-linking-beneficial-bacteria-mental-health-makes-top-10-list-brain-research

Image: Priscilla Du Preez @priscilladupreez

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