Is happiness really only the absence of misery? We’ve got good news that’ll make you smile – you don’t have to be in a bad mood today.
Imagine yourself somewhere else. Perhaps sitting on a beach with that special someone at sunset, while the ocean washes away all thoughts of your hectic daily life. Does the thought make you smile?
If so, you’re on the right track to building a wealth of happiness, which is what Rita Simonetta did. “I worked in a very tense atmosphere with a lot of competitive people who didn’t really like each other very much,” says the 30-year-old ESL teacher. “The days were long and tense.” Before throwing in the towel, Simonetta decided to take control of the situation, not so much by improving the office atmosphere, but by improving her own day. “I decided to incorporate some rituals that would give me something to look forward to and give me a mental break.” She never missed taking a lunch break, stopped thinking about work outside of the office, switched from coffee to green tea so she wouldn’t be as hyper, stretched often and practiced breathing exercises. Taking control and learning to escape are steps to putting on a happy face.
laugh it off
Not only does laughter release natural endorphins or feel good hormones in to your body, Lorraine West – author of the Handbook for Happiness, says it is impossible to worry while you are laughing. She adds laughter also halves your stress level. “A ‘laughing room’ was established recently in an Australian hospital,” Lorraine says. “This was inspired by widespread claims about the health benefits of expressing humour and the research showing that humour and laughter boost recovery times.”
Laughter, exercise, falling in love, touch and sex all feel good – that’s why we do them. All produce positive effects on the brain and body. Your brain releases chemicals called endorphins, sending pain-related and euphoric-related signals.
And here’s an interesting fact for you fitness enthusiasts: prolonged continuous exercise can increase the production and release of endorphins, resulting in a sense of euphoria, better known as “runner’s high.” Plus, a moderate to low amount of exercise regularly, like walking and jogging, is a good emotional-health habit, which can help you deal with stress. Daily runs, trips to the gym, lifting weights and aerobics three times a week, all high-intensity exercise, benefit women especially. Researchers have found that a relatively high-intensity exercise program is superior in reducing stress and anxiety.
But if the thought of climbing out of bed at dawn to hit the gym for yet another round of weightlifting or your daily run leaves you feeling sapped and miserable, perhaps you need to revamp your workout. When Simonetta is bored of her same-old gym, she tries out a new machine, works out to a new video at home or exercises with her brother instead. And each makes her happier and more motivated to train.
your daily self
If misery begets misery, then the same can be said about happiness. You can help both yourself and your moody friends just by maintaining your positive outlook. If you aren’t naturally positive, remember to take personal responsibility for your everyday pressures, negative influences, life and your own outlook. Taking control is the key to enhancing not just your own emotions, but also the emotions of those around you. If your attitude is positive, you are able to cope, make good choices and deal with life’s everyday challenges. So put on a happy face.
small steps to enjoy your day
When you encounter a negative person, don’t react.
Don’t let them ruin your day.
Take a breather – go for a walk, meditate, remove yourself from a stressful situation if possible.
If your partner has a negative attitude, talk to them about it without blaming them. Counselling or a book on positive thinking may help.
Steer clear of gossips. Partaking in a negative conversation feeds the fire and will deplete your energy.
Set healthy boundaries. Limit the amount of negativity you tolerate – enough is enough.
If you know you’re likely to indulge in food when you’re anxious or upset, avoid diets that you find too strict, suggests Healthywomen.org. Then you won’t feel deprived when considering healthy food options.
By Nancy Duncan
"Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it. "