“We don’t need more money, we don’t need greater success or fame, we don’t need the perfect body or even the perfect mate. Right now, at this very moment, we have a mind, which is all the basic equipment we need to achieve complete happiness.” Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama is right, the tools we have to achieve happiness are accessible to all. However, the world can seem a little overwhelming at times for many of us. So it is important to regularly ask yourself, what makes you happy?
March 20 marks Word Happiness Day - a global celebration to mark the United Nations International Day of Happiness. It is coordinated by Action for Happiness, a non-profit movement of people from 160 countries, supported by a partnership of like-minded organisations.
The theme for 2021 International Day of Happiness is and is, of course, in response to the COVID pandemic.
- 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.
- Stay wise. Making wise choices helps everyone. Let’s choose positive actions that support our well-being and help others to do the same.
- Be kind. We’re all in this together, even when we’re forced apart. Let’s stay connected and reach out to help others who may be in need.
Before we go on, we also want to remind you it is important to remember that it is ok not to be okay. Some days we just have those days. There are some simple steps to boost your happiness if you are feeling like you are in a rut.
You are never alone. Tell someone you trust how you feel. And if you have no-one nearby then you can call a helpline (see below) for a friendly chat.
Get the basics right. Make time for yourself, eat healthily, get plenty of sleep and exercise, connect with loved ones and try to notice what’s good.
Seek professional help. Ask your doctor or local health service about potential support which might help, such as counselling or talking therapy.
There is so much more research than ever before about the neuroscience behind happiness and the four hormones that are critical to your happiness levels. These four happy hormones are;
Dopamine. Also known as the “feel-good” hormone, dopamine is a hormone and neurotransmitter that’s an important part of your brain’s reward system. Dopamine is associated with pleasurable sensations, along with learning, memory, motor system function, and more.
Serotonin. This hormone (and neurotransmitter) helps regulate your mood as well as your sleep, appetite, digestion, learning ability, and memory.
Oxytocin. Often called the “love hormone,” oxytocin is essential for childbirth, breastfeeding, and strong parent-child bonding. This hormone can also help promote trust, empathy, and bonding in relationships, and oxytocin levels generally increase with physical affection like kissing and cuddling.
Endorphins. Endorphins are your body’s natural pain reliever, which your body produces in response to stress or discomfort. Endorphin levels also tend to increase when you engage in reward-producing activities such as eating and doing physical exercise working out.
One simple thing all of us can do is make a list of what makes us happy. Remember to do at least one of these daily or put them on your fridge as a reminder to fill your ‘happiness bank”.
Some ideas that could help boost your happy hormones and lift your spirits are;
- Sit in the sunlight
- Dance in your lounge room
- Take a walk in nature
- Talk positively about the world around you
- Go for a swim
- Cook a meal and share it with a loved one
- Talk to a friend
- Do something creative
- Spend some time in your garden
- Listen to your favourite music
- Put your aromatherapy mister on
Another great writer on happiness, Matthieu Ricard, says - while it may be difficult to change the world, it is always possible to change the way we look at it.