Keys to Happiness

When you feel happy or positive, you feel motivated, productive and energized. You can also feel like you can do anything!

Some chemicals in the brain help boost happiness too. They are also called “happy hormones” and help enhance your life.

  1. Dopamine (hormone and neurotransmitter): it makes you feel pleasure and helps you with learning, memory, etc.
  2. Serotonin (neurotransmitter): it helps control your mood, sleep, appetite, digestion, learning and memory
  3. Oxytocin (hormone): it’s also called the “love hormone.” It helps you bond and be intimate with your family and significant others and establish trust and empathy in any human relationship.
  4. Endorphins: they help relieve your pain, stress or discomfort.

Although happiness is vital for your well-being, there are some impediments to happiness.

What stops you from being happy?

  1. Comparing yourself to others
    Whether you compare yourself to others, your present moments to the past, or your life in Canada to back home, your comparisons often bring dissatisfaction. When you compare two things, you are more likely to focus on what you do not have at this moment, whether it’s something you used to have or you long to have. You also feel unsatisfied with everything you do have right now. “The grass is always greener on the other side;” whatever you don’t have looks very appealing. 
    The more you long for things that you don’t have, the more jealous and frustrated you feel about yourself or your current situation. You may also try surrounding yourself with “stuff” by satisfying your need to have stuff.
  2. (Trying to or pretending to) be perfect
    Nothing is “perfect” in every single situation in life, yet it’s easy to think that there is something “perfect.” Being a “perfect” son/daughter that your parents wish you to become, forming “perfect” relationships with your friends, family or partner, being a “perfect” student who succeeds in everything… Some of you might be feeling the pressure to “be perfect,” whether from your family or within yourself.
  3. Using social media too much and sugarcoating your life
    Have you scrolled through the Instagram timeline and thought about what an amazing life your favourite celebrities have? Or have you made posts on social media filled with happy and beautiful photos of yours?

    Social media does not always portray reality, yet it’s so easy to believe it is. If you start thinking so, you will feel unsatisfied with what you have and you will place unrealistic expectations on your life.
    Social media makes it easy to compare yourself to others and create a “perfect” world. This idea also applies to your use of social media. It’s so easy to sugarcoat yourself by only showing good sides or aspects of you and your life on social media. You could even start paying closer attention to your likes and followings and use them to your “worth.”

What can you do to stay happy?

There are so many ways to incorporate happiness into your life. It doesn’t have to be complicated; in fact, our suggestions are simple and easy!

  1. Stay in the present moment and enjoy it.

Focus on what you have and where you live right now. Observe your surroundings and your inner needs and do what makes you happy right now.
You may not realize this, but you might have many skills and things that other people feel envious about. The grass is always greener on the other side, no matter where you see it, but your grass can be greener and better for others. Acknowledge that grass is always green.
Meditation and breathing can help you stay in the present moment too.

2. Be kind to yourself and people around you.

If you are rude or mean to yourself, it shows. Since many emotions are contagious, you may transfer negative feelings to people around you without noticing.

Start by acknowledging that you are not perfect, but you are enough. Try giving yourself a pat on your shoulders after a long day. Take a break from studying or working and go for a walk. Cook your favourite dish to boost your energy.

Give compliments to people around you and remind them that they are great. Compliments are always free and saying positive words makes you feel better!

3. Interact with people and/or animals.

Think about the best day of your life for a moment. When was it? What was it about? Were you alone when that event happened? It’s most likely that you shared certain happy moments in your life with someone else.

Check in with people around you, whether you feel good or bad. If you have happy news to share, go ahead and share. Happiness is also contagious! Share your happy moments and feelings with someone or let someone share their happiness with you.

Hugging also releases oxytocin we discussed earlier. When humans are not around, hug your pet! Animals can also bring you love and happiness.

4. Note and appreciate what made you happy/smile today

Sometimes happiness comes from smaller things that you take for granted or you let go of. Some things can make your day for the better!

For example, did you see a cute dog on your way to work today? Did a barista leave a smile on your Starbucks cup? Did your friend share a funny post on social media? Did your friend text you and end up having nice catch-up? Try to remember and cherish those small moments! Taking pictures of those moments is also a good idea.

When you feel down, and you didn’t find small things that made your day, try music and laughter (comedy). Both help reduce your stress level too!

5. Go outside and enjoy the sunshine

Sunshine can boost your endorphins and serotonin! These hormones can help you sleep well and feel refreshed as well. Go outside, enjoy the sun and do exercises.

You may hear that you need to take Vitamin D during winter. That’s because sunshine contains Vitamin D!

6. Sleep well

Try to sleep for 7-9 hours every night. Try to avoid distractions like your phone and caffeine at night. A good night’s sleep is essential not only because your body can rest and recharge but also because it helps you easily create daily routines.

Having a good night’s sleep is also key to a healthy lifestyle.   

7. Self-care

Last but certainly not least, make sure that your self-care routine works for you. Do you know what makes you happy? What kind of activities or food brings you a smile?

If you love cooking, make some extra time for yourself and cook your favourite dish. If your family brings you joy every time you facetime them, facetime them. Always remember that self-care is your top priority, and it’s important to review it regularly. Your preferences always change.

References and further reading:

Ng, L. (2019, Aug 19). The Secret to Happiness
Raypole, C. (2019, Sep 30). How to Hack Your Hormones for a Better Mood.