As you may know, today is United Nations International Day of Happiness which marks the 2012 UN General Assembly resolution calling on member states to take happiness seriously. At the time of the resolution, General Secretary Ban Ki-moon stated a “the world needs a new economic paradigm that recognises the parity between the three pillars of sustainable development. Social, economic and environmental well-being are indivisible. Together they define gross global happiness.” The small Himalayan country of Bhutan has been at the forefront of the national happiness movement since the 1970s and famously adopted the metric of a Gross National Happiness measure over Gross National Product.
As part of the event the UN invites member states, international and regional organisations, NGOs, interested groups and individuals to observe the International Day of Happiness in an appropriate manner, including through education and public awareness-raising activities.
A profound shift in attitudes is already underway all over the world. People are now recognising that 'progress' should be about increasing human happiness and wellbeing, not just growing the economy. All 193 United Nations have signed up to the resolution calling for happiness to be given greater priority. One of David Cameron's initiatives has been a national happiness survey. But does all this talk of happiness actually work?
The relationship between positive thinking and productivity is well researched and documented. And you don’t need research papers to tell you a team with a ‘can do’ attitude is better than a team with a ‘can’t do’ attitude. We also know happier people are more likely to be healthy, take less time off work and have the confidence to try new things. So how can you help your team, your school, your family or just you be happier, healthier and more resilient?
Laughology has conducted academic research to look at skill sets which increase our emotional intelligence and happiness.
1. A good support system
Do you know who to go to when you need support? Does your workplace, school or organisation have a structured support system? Do you support others? Having and giving support is one of the most important things we can do. Support networks help us rationalise issues, talk through problems and find solutions. We’ve attached a document that might help you think about who’s the best person to give you support. Also supporting and helping others gives a sense of purpose and happiness.
2. Coping skills
Having techniques to be able to cope with life’s challenges helps us be happier. Life can be difficult and knowing how to get through it is the most important thing. Having a good sense of humour helps us to see life in a different way. Laughology’s unique FLIP technique helps us turn a situation on its head and think and feel differently. You can also develop coping and resilience skills through on-line learning courses and by talking to other people to see how they have learnt to look at life in different ways.
3. Continued personal development and learning
Learning is good for the soul and keeps brains and hearts alert. Recognise when you need a challenge in work or life and make sure you go for it. Even if it scares you, give it a go. Learning increases our understanding of many different things and gives us confidence in many ways.
Confidence is a key skill. It helps us face challenges, get on in work and cope with events. Confidence comes from pushing yourself to do something and achievement. Confidence is also a behaviour and a thought process. Acting confident makes you feel confident and makes others perceive you as confident. So shoulders back, chest out and tell yourself you can! Challenge the negative thoughts you have. The human mind and body is capable of much more than we think. We aren’t born good at things, we learn them. Believing in yourself and your abilities is half the battle.
5. Positive relationship
In surveys having good friends regularly comes out as the most important aspect of having a happy life. Positive relationships in work are also vital as is knowing and accepting your responsibility for creating positive relationships and being aware of how you make other people feel and how you can make other people feel. You don’t have to be best friends with someone to have a positive relationship. It’s about being consistent.
Walking in the park, a regular gym activity, or walking up the stairs; any regular exercise is great for you. It gets endorphins pumping in the body and releases serotonin in the brain. You should at least try and do a little bit of exercise once a week.
7. Getting out
Being outside in the fresh air and in open spaces has a positive effect on mood. Where you can, take a lunch break outside the office for a change of scenery, even if it’s 10 minutes. Your brain gets a break and it will increase your neurotransmitters which are essential to learning and memory. Sitting and working at a desk on one task all day is not productive. Short breaks will get the brain cells dancing and make you think and work better.
8. Have a good laugh and develop a sense of humour. Laughter is great for you.
It releases endorphins which make us feel happy, relaxed and comfortable. A positive mind set is the key to success, make sure you pick a healthy approach to life that is not just realistic for your lifestyle, but good fun too. Learn to laugh at yourself. You can develop your own sense of humour by watching comedians and how they explain situations in a comical way. Revisit past events and see if you can think about them differently - through the eyes of a comedian. Using humour tricks like exaggeration and wordplay can alter the context of a situation and help you feel more positive.
9. Eat well
Healthy eating should be a way of life and it can be easier to kick start a new regime, if you do it with a group of friends. Having a healthy, balanced diet will impact on mood and help you feel better about yourself. Being healthy is not about banishing treats from your life. reats in moderation are beneficial. Try to limit them to when you're in a good mood as you are more likely to eat less and rely on them as emotional crutches.
10. Be optimistic
Being optimistic is about choice. While being scepticism helps avoid risk, optimism is about looking for opportunities. Know how to build optimism and try to look for solutions and opportunities. Ask yourself how might I feel about this situation in one month, one year or even a decade!
Happiness is something you can work at, it’s about mind-set, choice and behaviours.
Join the conversation and share your top tips for happiness. You can post your comments in the box below.