Happiness is Healing, But Not Always Easy to Achieve: Try These Practical Tips
Are you happy?
This question may seem silly, but the more I am in practice, the more I see more-and-more people unhappy. In fact, when you become a new client of mine I send you a “happy” essential oil roller bottle that contains frankincense, peppermint, and orange. These essential oils have been known to lift up your mood. As I write to you I am smelling these oils, sitting with my dog and little girl on my screen porch looking into nature.
Happy doesn’t get any better than this!
Everyone has a desire to be happy but sometimes our brains get wired to be unhappy. How does this happen?
The dictionary defines happiness as, “the state of being happy,” which sounds obvious, but ambiguous.
Other definitions include:
- Good fortune
- A state of well-being and contentment
- A pleasurable or satisfying experience
Still, none of these explain what happiness actually is. The field of psychology describes happiness as the experience of frequent positive emotions, such as joy, interest, pride, and infrequent negative emotions, such as sadness, anxiety, and anger.
Now, we’re getting a little closer.
To get a little more specific I’ll go with the following definition: “Happiness is the appreciation of life, moments of pleasure, but overall it has to do with the positive experience of emotions.”
But, let’s dig a little deeper. Chemicals in the brain related to happiness are:
Serotonin is considered a ‘happy’ hormone because of its mood boosting effects. Lack of this hormone is associated with depression.
Give yourself a boost of serotonin by:
- Focus on positive memories for things you’re grateful for to produce more serotonin.
- Get some sunshine. When sunlight is absorbed by our skin, vitamin D is produced which in turn helps produce serotonin.
- Low intensity exercise, such as going for a walk boosts the release of serotonin.
Dopamine is a ‘pleasure’ hormone, it increases our drive to accomplish a goal, so we can experience the pleasure of the reward.
Give yourself a boost of dopamine by:
Set specific measurable goals and achieving them. This can be as simple as making your bed in the morning!
Dopamine levels rise with serotonin during exercise!
Oxytocin is the ‘love’ hormone and is released upon physical contact. From childbirth to a hug, oxytocin is there providing feelings of love and trust.
Give yourself a boost of oxytocin by:
- Get a massage, the prolonged physical contact releases oxytocin.
- Hug and cuddle loved ones often.
More on the definition of happiness
The ancient Greeks defined happiness as:
"Happiness is the joy that we feel when we’re striving after our potential."
"Happiness is a state of activity."
Eleanor Roosevelt said:
"Someone once asked me what I regarded as the three most important requirements for happiness. My answer was: A feeling that you have been honest with yourself and those around you; a feeling that you have done the best you could both in your personal life and in your work; and the ability to love others."
Michael J. Fox said:
“My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.”
How would YOU define happiness yourself?
Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, Robert Waldinger, shares findings from an ongoing study regarding happiness. The study is 75 years in the making, starting in 1938 with a group of Harvard College students. The study has evolved to include more participants, and every two years a research group conducts interviews, obtains medical records, and completes brain scans.
Waldinger states, “The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”
The three main lessons learned from the study are about relationships:
- The more socially connected someone is to family, friends, and community, the healthier and happier they are. People who are isolated suffer from poorer health and are less happy.
- The next lesson learned is regarding the quality of relationships. Someone can be in a crowd and still lonely, so the number of friends someone has doesn’t indicate happiness but having close connections does.
- The final lesson learned is that good relationships don't just protect our bodies, they protect our brains too.
The study found that when participants had others to lean on, and continually developed close relationships, these individuals experienced more overall happiness.
How do we develop and sustain good relationships?
This can be as simple as replacing screen time with face-to-face time with the people you care about or are cultivating new relationships with. Liven up a relationship by doing something new together. Re-establish date night or start a weekly game night with a group of friends. Reach out to a family member you’ve lost touch with. Try joining a group of like-minded individuals. Maybe you want to join a walking group or learn a new skill. Whatever you’re interested in, simply type in a subject and find meetups nearby.
Gratitude is a great way to foster a happier disposition.
Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., has been coined the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude. His research findings show that people who regularly practice gratitude report experiencing more joy, pleasure, optimism, happiness, and higher levels of positive emotions. Emmons emphasizes the importance of making a distinction between feeling grateful and being grateful. According to Emmons, feelings develop from the way we see the world, the thoughts we have about the way things are, and perceptions of the way we think things should be. Being grateful, on the other hand, is a choice. “Gratitude provides a perspective from which we can view life in its entirety and not be overwhelmed by temporary circumstances,” says Emmons.
My all-time favorite song from my aunt, Olivia Newton-John is “Grace and Gratitude”. If you have not heard it, listen to it today, you will be grateful you did.
Let’s take a look at techniques for becoming more grateful:
- Start a journal. Set aside some time each day to recall and record moments of gratitude.
- Reflect on these questions, “What have I received from __?” “What have I given to __?” and “What troubles and difficulty have I caused?”
- Prayers of gratitude are considered the most powerful form of prayer.
- Visual reminders are a great way to trigger thoughts of gratitude.
- Practice the motions. Smiling, saying thank you, and writing letters of gratitude regularly will strengthen the emotion of gratitude.
- Each circumstance offers an opportunity for gratitude, be creative and look for new situations where you can express gratitude.
Research is growing on the connection that nature makes us healthier and happier people.
A 30-day study was conducted that involved people "doing something wild" every day for 30 consecutive days. Participants were asked to complete a survey at the beginning and end of the study about their perceived connection to nature, how they interacted with nature, and how they felt about their health and happiness. The study showed that there was a scientifically significant increase in people’s health, happiness, and connection to nature just by being encouraged to spend time with it. Amazingly, the participant’s new-found happiness was even sustained for months following the challenge.
Nature teaches us that time slows down. Urgency and deadlines melt away. Nature calls you back to reality allowing you to surrender comfort, control, and reinforces acceptance. As we remove the chaotic noises of society and replace them with sounds of nature, we become calmer. Being in nature provides a sense of awe. We realize there are things at play much larger than us.
Wealth doesn’t buy happiness
Studies show lottery winners do not become significantly happier than they were before. Extremely rich people are not significantly happier than others either. Research has found that possessing wealth and material goods does not lead to happiness; giving them away actually does. Studies of people who practice volunteering have shown that they have better psychological, mental health, and increased longevity.
Another study has shown donating money or spending money on experiences rather than material goods is positively correlated with happiness. By being more generous and altruistic, happiness increases with the amount of money you give to people in need, by volunteering, or spending more time helping other people.
Give back for free!
Here are a list of different ways to give back without spending money:
-Volunteer for a cause you care about
-Cook for those in need
-Become a mentor
-Assist seniors in need
-Lift a soldier’s spirits
-Help build a house
-Share your skills
-Pick up trash
When my husband and I were dating we did a lot of volunteer work. I believe volunteering helps our marriage stay connected and happier. 😉
Here are some proven techniques to cultivate more happiness:
- Savor the moment and feel the wind
- Take control of your time
- Act happy
- Exercise and make time for sleep
- Give time and attention to close relationships
- Take more deep breaths
- Express gratitude
- Give more
“The key to happiness is knowing you have the power to choose what to accept and what to let go.”
If you want more healthy tips you can subscribe to my YouTube channel here https://www.youtube.com/drcorinneweaver. Like and comment on my channel so I will know what tips and topics you want to know about. I am forming a community of people who want to take action in their own health with my social media channels and I want to know what health topics you want to hear.
I hope my column speaks to you and you can wake up each morning with a purpose. What I do every day is a calling, and I give God the glory for allowing His gifts to work through me. I do believe in miracles, because I get to see them every day! For more information you can go to www.nomoremedsmovement.com and sign up for my closed Facebook group #NoMoreMeds-Community for more healthy tips.
Dr. Corinne Weaver
Dr. Corinne Weaver is a compassionate upper cervical chiropractor, educator, motivational speaker, mother of three, and internationally bestselling author. In 2004, she founded the Upper Cervical Wellness Center in Indian Trail, North Carolina. Over the last 13 years, she has helped thousands of clients restore their brain to-body function. When she was 10 years old, she lost her own health as the result of a bike accident that led to having asthma and allergy issues that she thought she would always have to endure. Then, after her first upper cervical adjustment at age 21, her health began to improve thanks to upper cervical care and natural herbal remedies. This enabled her to create a drug-free wellness lifestyle for herself and her family, and she also enthusiastically discovered her calling to help children heal naturally.
Dr. Weaver was recently named one of Charlotte Magazine's "Top Doctors" in 2016 and is now a number-one internationally bestselling author to two books: Learning How to Breathe and No More Meds.
Upper Cervical Wellness Center is known for finding the root cause of health concerns through lifestyle changes, diagnostic testing, nutraceutical supplementation, and correction of subluxation (as opposed to just medicating the symptoms). The practice offers cutting-edge technological care at its state-of-the-art facility, including laser-aligned upper cervical X-rays, bioimpedance analysis (measures body composition), digital thermography (locates thermal abnormalities characterized by skin inflammation), and complete nutritional blood analysis, which is focused on disease prevention.