It’s quite clear that good health contributes to our feeling of well-being. Indeed, traditional Chinese medicine identifies the liver as the organ of happiness (or unhappiness) and treats it appropriately with herbal tonics. Activity of all sorts has been shown to raise your mood instantly and, as you get fitter, to improve your long-term sense of self-esteem. Relaxation is also vital to a sense of calm and of being at peace with yourself. It goes without saying that to be in harmony with your body you must clear up any long-standing physical problems, whether that’s a sore neck or poor digestion.
There are many areas of our lives that we probably can’t change – and certainly not at a moment’s notice. But there are things that everyone can do to be happier now. Professor Michael Argyle, the author of The Psychology of Happiness and many other works on the subject, compiled with us these ways of helping yourself to happiness:
Reel away the blues Dancing, whether it’s Scottish reels, waltzing or doing the lambada, scores the highest points for making you feel joyful, followed by involvement in sport, music and drama.
Get closer to friends and people you love Being with old and new friends, expressing love and being told you are loved, and praising others make you feel better and warmer for the whole day.
Practise being a good talker and a good listener The single most important factor in close relationships is communication. Learn to be open about your feelings and to listen to other people – without interrupting or judging them.
Don’t live in the problem, live in the solution Think positive and bring problems out in the open. Then set about finding constructive ways to deal with them, with others’ help if necessary. Solutions may be simple – such as letting time heal wounds or rebuilding bridges with other people – or more demanding – such as completing a task, attaining a goal, e.g. a work deadline, or consulting an expert for advice, whether the problem in emotional or practical.
Keep laughing Smiling and laughing – even if you fake them – and watching funny films and plays trigger the release of feel-good hormones from your brain, which improve your mood and help you sleep better.
Set attainable goals Make a list of goals you need to achieve, and those you want to achieve, and give yourself a realistic time frame, e.g. one goal a week. Don’t overcommit yourself.
Be assertive Assertiveness on one day helps ensure a positive mood the next. Being assertive means asking for what you want, and sometimes saying ‘no’ to requests – clearly (but nicely). Practise saying ‘no’ in front of the mirror; it really does get easier.
Get close to nature Seeing beautiful scenery, breathing clean air, watching animals and birds in the outdoors, and sitting in the sun are all effective blues beaters, and help you sleep soundly.
Explore spirituality A sense that life has meaning and direction, plus confidence in a set of guiding values, makes many people happier. Choose whatever spiritual path appeals. You could start by simply lighting a candle at home or in a holy place.
- Listen to music
- Pay someone a compliment
- Plan a trip or holiday
- Read a poem, short story or novel
- Eat a good meal
- Stroke an animal