Research has indicated that happiness appears to be routed in our genes. However, the good news is there are strategies that we can put in place to boost our happiness. We have all heard the old maxim that laughter is the best medicine. In fact it turns out to be very true. When we have a good laugh our bodies release hormones to make us feel good. A good belly laugh decreases stress hormones and increases the release of endorphins.
Areas that are known to increase happiness are investing in your relationships. The increase in happiness may come from your primary relationship with your partner. But happiness may also come from the investment in children, family, and friends. Those who are in a stable partnership are nearly twice as likely to feel contented as those who are not. Being in a stable partnership has other benefits. Research indicates that being part of a couple means you look after yourself more. Couples tend to eat healthy meals and take regular exercise. Research has shown physical affection soothes and reduces stress. While sex keeps us fit, strong, supple, and hormonally balanced. Sex also boots our immune system.
A few of the key strategies suggested by Dr Davidson to improve happiness are;
- Setting goals and working towards rewarding results.
- Set goals that can be achieved.
- Get regular exercise. Exercise boosts serotonin levels.
- Meditate on a regular basis. Meditation can build self-awareness.
- Perform acts of kindness.
- Get outside. A daily dose of nature can increase your sense of wellbeing.
Research has shown the more trusting and confident the mother-child relationship bond, the more easily a child learns to maximise its happiness. Positive attachment allows the setting up of secure adult relationships and long-term contentment. Assisting children to set easy and rewarding goals early in life is important for happiness. This teaches children to manage and achieve within a relaxed environment.
It is not possible to reverse the genetic hand we have been dealt. However, we can reinforce positive elements in our lives to enhance our happiness. Reinforcing positives allows us all to remain closer to our peak levels of happiness.
Christopher Swane - Counselling and Psychotherapy Services - Wellington New Zealand