What is Happiness?
In kindergarten, we are shown three faces. One has a concave arch, one is a straight line and the third is convex. We are told that the convex face is smiling, and if you’re smiling, you must be happy.
Now, years down the track, and we realise that smiling does not always mean we are happy, but then- what is ‘happiness’.
In 2015, Wendy Zukerman (7) looked at the scientific value of happiness through topics such as genetic precursors, money, geography, relationships (of both marital and social contexts). She also looked at how one activity may bring happiness to one person, but not necessarily to others. Writing a gratitude journal for instance, didn’t work for one individual like it did for others, but that individual said raking leaves gave them strong feelings of accomplishment, gratitude and happiness (7).
The common trend between these ‘happiness enhancers’, is that they are all activities that don’t directly focus on ‘happiness’.
So here are a few things that have been scientifically proven to increase happiness in some way or other. Enjoy!
Mindfulness Meditation (3,6)
“The intentional and nonjudgmental awareness of all thoughts, feelings, and sensations that occur in the present moment. It is associated with higher levels of quality of life, sleep quality and duration, and life satisfaction and happiness. It is also associated with lower levels of stress and depression and anxiety” (O’ Leary and Dockray 2015).
Gratitude Journals (5,6)
“Gratitude is a tendency toward appreciating the positive in life. It is associated with reduced anxiety; stress and depression; and increased life satisfaction, positive affect, and health behaviors (O’ Leary and Dockray 2015)”
There are so many journals to choose from, here is the one I use.
“…gentle Hatha yoga and mindful breathing, are increasingly integrated into secular health care settings[…] current findings increasingly support yoga and mindfulness as promising complementary therapies for treating and preventing addictive behaviors” (Khanna and Greeson 2013).
You should check out what your local gym offers, otherwise the yoga academy app offers simple, effective instructions and classes.
If you are ever in Bali, you should check out the yoga barn
“Perhaps one of the most fascinating chapters from an interprofessional perspective is the one which covers the measurement of sport participation and “happiness.” Acknowledging the research in recent years regarding sport promoting mental health benefits, the chapter presents findings from a US study that suggest important implications for the future relationship between the sport and health sectors, and that governments need to adopt a more consistent joined-up approach to strategy formulation and policy delivery as regards sport provision” (Christie 2012).
Exercise comes in all shapes and sizes, but my favourite work out at the moment is The Jungle Body.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. She’s a hippy. But according to Harding and Stebbing (2014)
“Holding the crystals in each hand, trying to tune in to their frequency, while absorbing their positive light, is undoubtedly a form of meditation. And meditation has definitely been proven to reduce anxiety and pain and improve psychological well-being and quality of life”
AMETHYST: stress reliever, inner strength, wealth, attracts positive energy.
CORAL: prevents bad luck, reduces chance of skin disease, aids in meditation and visualisation.
JADE: lucky charm, courage, compassion, generosity, longevity.
ONYX: deters negative energy, calming, stabilises, secures.
ROSE QUARTZ: love (self, family, friends, romance), empathy, reconciliation, forgiveness.
TIGERS EYE: re-balances, optimism, good luck, prosperity, talisman against bad luck and curses.
Religion and Spirituality (4)
“religious beliefs and behaviors were positively and consistently related to greater purpose and meaning in life, optimism, generosity toward others, and the expression of gratitude, even in those with major depression”(Koenig et al. 2014).
I’ve recently been reading these books. You can buy them on book depository for next to nothing.
For more ideas, check out The Happy Life, by Lola Berry. It’s packed full of healthy recipes, meditation practices, yoga poses and general well-being advice.
Christie, Mark. 2012. “The Economics Of Sport, Health And Happiness: The Promotion Of Well-Being Through Sporting Activities”. Journal Of Interprofessional Care 26 (6): 520-520. doi:10.3109/13561820.2012.715528.
“Healing Stones Meanings, Discover The Gemstone Healing Power”. 2016. Energymuse.Com. https://www.energymuse.com/about-gemstones.
Khanna, Surbhi and Jeffrey M. Greeson. 2013. “A Narrative Review of Yoga and Mindfulness as Complementary Therapies for Addiction”. Complementary Therapies in Medicine 21 (3): 244-252. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2013.01.008.
Koenig, Harold G., Lee S. Berk, Noha S. Daher, Michelle J. Pearce, Denise L. Bellinger, Clive J. Robins, Bruce Nelson, Sally F. Shaw, Harvey Jay Cohen, and Michael B. King. 2014. “Religious Involvement Is Associated with Greater Purpose, Optimism, Generosity and Gratitude in Persons with Major Depression and Chronic Medical Illness”. Journal of Psychosomatic Research 77 (2): 135-143. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2014.05.002.
Lin, Chih-Che. 2015. “The Relationships Among Gratitude, Self-Esteem, Depression, And Suicidal Ideation Among Undergraduate Students”. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 56 (6): 700-707. doi:10.1111/sjop.12252.
O’ Leary, Karen and Samantha Dockray. 2015. “The Effects of Two Novel Gratitude and Mindfulness Interventions On Well-Being”. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 21 (4): 243-245. doi:10.1089/acm.2014.0119.
Zukerman, Wendy. 2015. “Happiness”. Podcast. Science Vs.. https://soundcloud.com/science-vs-season-1/happiness.