Cultivating happiness

Stress

This blog describes 5 simple ways of creating happiness....

5 simple ways to boost your happiness

For most of us, there are only a few things in life that really matter. We want to be happy, healthy and loved. When it comes to happiness, what most people don't seem to realise is that it really is an inside job. So today, I wanted to spend time discussing happiness.

Where do you place your attention?

There's a big movement towards mindfulness at the moment and because of how our brains work, it's actually a very clever idea. With so much going on around us, it's easy to get distracted by things that really don't matter and unfortunately for us, the negative ones are easier to remember than the positive ones. Mindfulness exercises are one way to make you notice where your attention lies. In an interesting book called Happiness by design by Professor Paul Dolan, he talks about how our attention should be treated like a scarce resource. If you want to be happy, start paying attention to the things that make you happy in your life. Look for the ones that provide you with meaning or enjoyment. Whether that means a hug from a loved one, watching a dog chase a ball, the taste of a morning coffee, start looking for the things that make you happy. Then, at the end of the day, start writing them down in a journal. The more you do this, the more you train your brain and attention to start looking for these happy things and the more often they seem to appear.

Surround yourself with other happy people

There's a reason that it's said you are the sum of the five people closest to you. Whether you're chasing money, health or happiness, the habits and outlook of those around you can have a huge effect. So if what you want is happiness, take a good hard look at the people who fill your life. Much as we wish it wasn't the case, most of us have that friend who only ever calls to complain about how bad their life is or how they need a favour and then after you've caught up you feel more exhausted than you did beforehand. So do yourself a favour and start noticing which of your friends make you feel good, which ones seem happy and enthusiastic about life. By spending a bit more time with these friends than the negative Nelly type, you'll be sure to feel that happiness rubbing off on you too!

Smile

Smiles are wonderful things. Contagious and joyful, they can lift almost anyone's mood. A lot of research is now going into studies about laughter and smiling and it's a really interesting field. This is because our thoughts and physical bodies are more connected than we realise. In fact, your body often shows signs of how you're feeling before your brain has realised it. By activating the facial muscles into a smile, it tells you to be happy and to relax and your brain and thoughts will act accordingly.

Give unconditionally

Let me preface this by emphasising the word unconditionally. If you are in a state where you're so depleted that you have nothing left to give anyone, focus on giving back to yourself instead. Similarly, if your motivation is to appear to others to be a good person, you won't get the natural high. But, the act of helping someone else out, expecting nothing in return is incredibly powerful because it often brings the giver both pleasure and purpose, the two key elements needed for happiness according to Professor Dolan.

Connect

We are pack animals who need to belong. But in a technological world where most people opt for an sms or email, we seem to be losing the skill of actual conversation and human connection. This is why spending time with others is so important. Where human touch (i.e. a hug) can release a wave of oxytocin to reduce anxiety and help you feel safe, a deep and meaningful conversation helps us feel understood which in turn leaves us feeling happier, knowing we belong to a group. This is yet another reason why the people we surround ourselves with are so important!

Wishing you great health and a very happy day,

Dr Pete

PS. you are welcome to share this with friends and family

About Dr Pete

Dr Peter Holsman is a qualified Medical Practitioner, Naturopath and Professional Speaker based in Melbourne. An expert in his field with over 30 years experience, he specialises in treating people with fatigue related illnesses including stress, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, thyroid and adrenal hormone problems.

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