Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Joy Journal: Happy Behavior

A lot of people believe our thinking dictates how we feel and behave. There’s definitely truth to that. However, there’s not always a linear connection between thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Often the human experience begins in the body with its sensations and impulses. Then we apply meaning to what our body tells us.  Sometimes even if you aren’t “feeling it,” you can behave in the way you want to feel and your emotions will catch up. Here's my go-to list of happy behaviors to immediately feel better.

1) Smile

Have you ever noticed the main thing all happy people do? They smile. It only makes sense if you want to feel better the first thing you should do is smile more. It might seem corny but smiles really are contagious too. If you greet others with a smile, most of the time they’ll return it, which also feels good.

2) Go Outside

You know what else helps your mood? Sunshine. It’s pretty interesting to see the shift in people when the weather changes. Problems still might be there, but for many people they just start to see things differently. It seems warmth and light give people hope, so get outside more.

3) Sing and Dance

Do both of these, preferably at the same time. It’s not about your talent. There's no need to apologize for your perceived lack of vocals and moves. It's not about that. It's about letting go and expressing what's inside you. I recommend selecting a theme song, especially for Mondays, and going to town on it. See if you don't experience an immediate mood shift.   

4) Laugh

A final thing happy people do is laugh genuinely. We're not talking about a courtesy chuckle when someone says something mildly amusing. I'm talking about deep guffaws and belly laughs from the soul. I recommend having a friend or two on stand by that can crack you up at the end of a rough day. Also, have a few comedies you can unwind with when you're feeling stressed. The adage is right. Laughter is medicine.

So, there you have it. These are specific things you can do right away to start feeling happier. It’s not a mind-over-matter exercise either. There are actual neurobiological changes made when you engage in these happy behaviors. Serotonin increases, cortisol decreases, and endorphins released leave you feeling…well…joyful. And that’s kind of the point, right?

1 comment:

  1. These are great. Getting outside is underestimated by us homebodies. I'm trying to get out for walks with the baby as much as possible.