Simple moments can trigger joy, so embrace the little things that make you smile. Gemma McCaw reveals her favourite ways to find a moment of happiness.
A few years ago, Arianna Huffington, co-founder of The Huffington Post, described what she called “joy triggers” – the simple things in life that make us feel instantly happier. We all have these, but sometimes they’re so small we might not always recognise their importance. It might be that first coffee in the morning, the warmth of a cat curled in your lap or the sound of a tūī singing loudly in a tree. Everyone’s triggers will be different, but the result is the same – they bring about a little burst of joy.
It might be that first coffee in the morning, the warmth of a cat curled in your lap or the sound of a tūī singing loudly in a tree
It’s easy to view “finding happiness” as a lofty, long-term goal, but in reality, happiness can be found in these small moments that punctuate our everyday lives. And when we’re stressed or overwhelmed, it’s even more important to identify the little pick-me-ups that help us feel a little happier.
But the first step is recognising what our individual joy triggers are, and this can be done two ways. Firstly, find time in your day to sit down and write out all the little things in life that make you happy – this shouldn’t take too long. The second step is to note your happiness triggers as they happen. You’ll be surprised by how many more there are on this list than the first one, because it’s these unremarkable parts of life that can often go unnoticed.
Once you have your list, it’s time to use it to your benefit. Be deliberate with your happiness triggers. If clean sheets bring you joy, make sure you have time each weekend to change your bed with freshly- washed linen. If it’s an early morning walk with a friend, make it a permanent arrangement where you meet twice a week, or whatever works.
Remember, there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to finding your joy triggers. If singing in the shower makes you happy, make time to fit it in each morning!
1. Hug it out
Human connection is one of the most important ways we can inject some joy into our days, so try to spend time with the people you really love. Greet your friends and family with a hug – touch is proven to increase the production of happy hormones oxytocin and serotonin, both of which have been shown to improve our mental and physical health. If your nearest and dearest aren’t close, cuddling animals can increase your oxytocin levels too, as the mechanism behind the connections are the same.
2. A Favourite Or Comforting Meal
Good food has all sorts of benefits, but its ability to bring about joy shouldn’t be overlooked. Think about your favourite meal and schedule time in your week to make it, ensuring you give yourself time to sit down and enjoy it as well. Put your phone away and focus on what’s in front of you. Think about the tastes, the smells and the pleasure each bite brings – and remember to make enough so there’s leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch!
3. Attitude Of Gratitude
Practicing gratitude is a simple yet life-changing thing that you can do every day to make you feel instantly happier. Counting your blessings really is the biggest antidote to stress as it is impossible to feel disconnected when you are actively noticing the things you’re grateful for. It can shift you from the “fight or flight” stress response to “rest and digest”, making you feel calm. Every time you focus on gratitude, you’re helping combat depression and anxiety by minimising your cortisol production. Start right away – simply write down three things you are grateful for. Make a habit of doing this each day and notice how good this makes you feel.
4. Move Your Body
Whether it’s yoga or jogging, dancing or walking, moving our bodies is a sure-fire way to boost our happiness. Not only does exercise often involve fresh air, which is good for clearing the head, it boosts the release of dopamine, which gives us that post-workout glow. There is no right way to exercise – if walking with friends, taking an exercise class, biking or dancing around your living room is your way of staying fit and feeling good, then try to make time for it every day. Prioritise exercise in whatever form you choose.
5. Acts Of Kindness
Altruistic acts of generosity feel good, so try to incorporate helping others into your daily life. Shout a workmate a coffee, phone a friend for a catch up, or offer to help when you know someone is going through a difficult time. Doing things for others has been shown to increase emotional wellbeing for both giver and receiver.
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