You know that feeling of real happiness? When you experience a sudden very high spirit, that feeling of lightness, you are feeling great elation. Elation is more than mere happiness — it is extreme, exhilarating joy. My neighbor brought me freshly picked sunflowers from her garden yesterday, when I saw the sunflowers I experienced this feeling of elation and decided to ask my husband, who is an artist, to paint me these sunflowers. I want to surround myself with items that make me feel real happiness. We can create our happiness, and I think 2021 is the year where a lot of us need to 'create our own happiness'. So I've given this some thought and found the below 'Tools' to keep me happy through 2021', I hope they can do the same for you:
- SUNSHINE: Exposure to the sun is thought to increase the brain's release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting your mood and helping you feel calm and focused.
- NATURE: Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, but it also contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. Take the dogs for a walk, sit under a tree and feel the light breeze on your skin
- BE GRATEFUL: Gratitude is a way for you to appreciate what you have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make you happier, or thinking you can't feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Being grateful helps you refocus on what you have instead of what you lack. Write a list of everything that you can be grateful for and then write down a list of all the 'bad things' and I promise your grateful list will be longer than your 'bad things' list.
- SPEND TIME WITH PEOPLE THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY: The older I get the more I care less what other people think of me. I have come to realize that life is too short to spend it with people that you don't enjoy being with. Social distancing has given us the perfect excuse to spend time with only those people that matter. It's a proven fact that spending time with people you enjoy being around boosts your mental health. It notably reduces anxiety or depression and increases feelings of well-being, safety, and happiness. Talking via a video call works just as well!
- LAUGH MORE: Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain. We all have a friend that when we spend time together we talk nonsense and can laugh with.
- HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS: Relationships are connected to some of our strongest emotions. When they are positive we feel happiness, contentment, and calm. Compliments make us feel good - both giving and receiving them. Compliments help us communicate the appreciation we feel toward one another. And that makes us feel good. Make it a 2021 goal to praise every person in your family once every day, and try to get your children and spouse to do the same. If you arent married then try this with a friend. Learn to listen. When someone listens to you well, it makes you feel accepted, understood, important, valued, and validated. It gives you a voice to help you find yourself again. It reminds you that you are not invisible or alone. Although we hear with our ears, many of us don't necessarily listen to what is being said. With these 2 tools alone you can improve the relationships you have with family and friends.
- HOLIDAY TWICE A YEAR: Studies show a boost in a person's happiness 8 weeks before a planned holiday, the anticipation of positive events elevates your dopamine levels. There is also an increase in happiness for 2 - 8 weeks after your return from a holiday, this is due to reduced stress levels. Ideally, you should take at least two longer trips per year, in addition to a few other smaller trips. Holidays are a very effective way to stay healthy, live happier, and longer.
- FILL YOUR HOME WITH HAPPY: Filling your home with items that make you smile and give you a feeling of 'exhilarating joy'. Fresh flowers, a beautiful painting, sometimes it's the small things that make us smile.
I hope that in 2021 you can find the 'yellow sunflowers' in your life.