*The following has been adapted from The 30 Day Body Beautiful Program with Monika Polemicos, a therapeutic approach to weight management.
Hormones don’t lie. The following Secret Habits of Happy people have been researched to the wah-zoo and have demonstrated time and time again chemicals in your body determine your overall sense of happiness. These little suckers influence the way you feel –happy, sad or irritable as hell. Incorporating the following habits can assist you to use hormones to your advantage.
Serotonin is a hormone and neurotransmitter found in the gastrointestinal tract and brain that regulates mood, happiness and sleep. The production of serotonin fluctuates during the day which can account for the 3 p.m. slump in energy that has you reaching for the cookie tin and 3 sugars in your coffee.
- Your brain triggers certain food cravings to boost serotonin production: carbs and sugars. Therefore…Eating complex carbs with a low GI (Glycaemic Index) like root and green leafy vegetables (sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, and broccoli), legumes, beans ensure slow release and less of a crash and burn effect on your energy levels. Do not omit carbs from your eating plan; you will only binge on the wrong kind later.
Eating and exercising right are the obvious not-so-secret habits of happy people. In addition to these are our social habits that have a far greater impact on happiness.
- Support network- Great people to be around and support you when needed. To have a great social network takes time and energy to establish and means going out of your way to help your friends when they need you.
- Have appreciation for others and experiences. Dopamine has long been known to be the ‘pleasure’ chemical. It’s produced when people are in love, engaging in pleasurable activities like eating or thinking about these things. Keeping a gratitude journal of daily reflections stimulates the production of dopamine and the overall feeling of bliss, it also helps to keep you focused on the things that are in your control and influence rather than dwelling on this you cannot change. A perfect pathway to becoming an optimist.
- Are in a relationship/in love. The Grant Study followed a group of men for their entire lives found that “the capacity to love and be loved was the single strength most clearly associated with subjective well-being at age eighty.”
- In addition to living longer, happy people also work hard, they have goals, are driven by a purpose and get things done. Happy people actively make plans and schedule to do things that make them happy—hobbies that are enjoyable and set time aside for family vacations etc. If you knew you were going to die tomorrow (a tad drastic I know) what are the things unfinished or you didn’t get around to doing? Time to make a bucket list, and fill your time with things that are really important to your happiness.
- Light exposure has been used as therapy to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (the SAD’s) occurs predominately in the winter months with the reduction of natural sunlight exposure. Some research shows light therapy effective in the treatment of depression. Ensure your indoor environment is brightly lit during the winter months. Spend time in the outdoors even when it is overcast.
- Contribute by volunteering to a worthy cause. Dr. Stephen Post a Professor of Preventive Medicine at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine points out in a recent national survey of 4,582 American adults, 41 per cent of Americans volunteered an average of two hours per week; 68 per cent of volunteers agree that volunteering “has made me feel physically healthier”; and 96 per cent say volunteering “makes people happier.”
In addition, the survey results indicated that volunteers have less trouble sleeping, less anxiety, and better friendships and social networks.