The science of happiness, Research based tips to be happier, and 5 ways that SBN can help!
Happiness is a wonderful emotion that can range in intensity- from a warm wave of contentment, to an overwhelming flood of joy. We have all felt it at some stage, and all continue to feel happiness in varying frequencies and intensities. Are you looking to cultivate a little more joy in your life? Maybe you wake up feeling a bit sluggish and down, you’ve stopped looking forward to things you used to enjoy, or day to day activities are starting to feel like a bit of a slog. Or maybe you already feel a lot of happiness in your day to day life and just want to radiate even more joy! The wonderful thing about happiness is that we have a large amount of control around our personal experience with this emotion- as the saying goes: ‘If you want to be happy… Be happy’ -Leo Tolstoy. Okay so maybe it’s not quite that simple, but it certainly is achievable to tweak our lifestyles, actions and thought habits to cultivate more happiness in our lives!
What is Happiness?
Many people think that happiness will come at a certain time; when they go on a holiday, get a promotion, a new car, a new partner, a new outfit, or when they eat a certain meal. This, however, is most definitely not the case!
‘Happiness is not a destination, it is a direction’
Happiness is an emotional state characterised by feelings of joy, contentment and fulfilment. Although happiness has many different definitions, we generally understand this emotion to involve a sense of positivity. One important thing to remember is that happiness isn’t a state of constant euphoria. Instead, happiness is an overall sense of experiencing more positive emotions than negative ones. ‘Happy people’ will still feel the whole range of human emotions (such as anger, sadness, frustration, boredom, loneliness), from time to time. However, their ratio of positive to negative emotions swings more to the former! Even when faced with discomfort/struggles, happy people tend to maintain an underlying sense of optimism that things will get better, that they can deal with what is happening, and that they will be able to feel happy again.
While perceptions of happiness may be different from one person to the next, there are some key signs that psychologists look for when measuring and assessing happiness. Some key signs of happiness include:
-Feeling like you are living the life you wanted
-Feeling that the conditions of your life are good
-Feeling that you have accomplished (or will accomplish) what you want in life
-Feeling satisfied with your life
-Feeling positive more than negative
Serotonin and the Science of Happiness
You may have heard of our ‘Happy Hormone’ Serotonin before. This key hormone is produced from the amino acid tryptophan, and is later converted to another hormone called melatonin. Serotonin is involved in balancing our moods and governing reactions that cause us to feel positively.
Many may not be aware that serotonin is needed for much more than just happiness- healthy levels of serotonin are also necessary for:
-Learning and memory: Serotonin is needed for optimal memory, focus and cognition because of its role in increasing the ability of different neurons to get excited by various kinds of stimulation
-Pain management: research shows that those who experience pain (e.g. Arthritis, injuries and fibromyalgia) have significantly lower serotonin
-Sleep: As mentioned earlier, serotonin is later converted to Melatonin, which is actually our sleep hormone. If we have insufficient serotonin, or a compromised ability to convert serotonin, we will also have insufficient levels of melatonin and therefore compromised sleep.
-Digestion and bowel motions: Approximately 90% of serotonin is actually produced in our guts, where it is responsible for stimulating peristalsis (the wave-like muscle contractions in our gut that pushes stool along) stimulating the release of digestive secretions, and much more.
-Immune system: Almost all immune cells express one serotonin component (including serotonin receptors), therefore serotonin plays a role in regulating immune function.
Can we really make ourselves happier?
Knowing the science of happiness and serotonin, you may be wondering can we really change how happy we are? The answer is YES! While each of us has a genetic set point for happiness, we have the ability to control factors that influence the range around our happiness set points (for example, if someone has a happiness set point of 2/10, they could work to implement factors into their life that could expand their happiness range, allowing them to feel a 7/10, or even a 10/10!).
Science backs this up: the most important takeaway from recent scientific research is that we have the power to take control of our happiness by choosing our thoughts, behaviours, and actions. From a large-scale study of more than 2,000 twins, researchers have deduced that roughly 40% of our happiness comes from our daily activities! That provides us with a massive scope to cultivate healthy habits and a wholesome lifestyle to in turn boost our levels of happiness.
Research based tips to be happier
Happiness is a well researched topic, which makes sense because it is an emotion that many of us search for and aim to experience more of! The following are our favourite 5 evidence based hacks. They are enjoyable and simple practices to add to your daily life that will reap big happiness rewards!
1. Smile more:
We all know that when we are happy we smile, but did you know that just by smiling we can make ourselves feel happier? Aim to smile at more people each day, or to just smile to yourself when you otherwise might not have
2. Hug it out:
Studies show that hugging a loved one makes us feel happier and results in lowered stress levels and other related problems
3. Put away your devices:
Artificial light (specifically those from our phones, TV screens, computers and laptops) has been shown to significantly reduce our levels of sleep hormones and happy hormones, making it more challenging to achieve restorative rest and to feel positive. Cut down on unnecessary screen time as much as possible, and avoid using any devices at least 1-2 hours before bed. Keeping our technology out of sight during time spent with family and friends can also make us happier by strengthening our human connections- studies show that just the presence of a phone during a conversation significantly reduces one’s sense of connection, even if the phone didn’t ring or vibrate.
4. Acts of Kindness:
A brain imaging study showed that ‘pleasure centers’ in the brain light up when we give, while other studies have concluded that people can enhance their feelings of happiness simply by giving to others. Try to incorporate at least 1 act of kindness into each day- this may be writing a note to a loved one, smiling at a stranger, asking someone if they are okay, going the extra mile for a friend or colleague or giving a thoughtful gift.
5. Practice gratitude:
Write it down, say it to your family/friends, or simply sit and experience the emotion of gratitude on a daily basis. It is easy, affordable and simple to create a gratitude routine (morning, night, when you wash the dishes etc)! In one study, participants were asked to engage in a writing exercise for 10 to 20 minutes each night before bed, and the results showed that those who wrote a gratitude list had increased positive emotions, increased subjective happiness, and improved life satisfaction compared to those who wrote of daily hassles or even neutral events
6. Hobbies and creative pursuits:
Hobbies bring a sense of fun and freedom to life, provide an outlet for stress, and give us something to look forward to after a long/hard day. Research shows that people with hobbies experience higher levels of happiness/life satisfaction, and are less likely to suffer from stress and depression in both the short and long term. A study conducted by several psychologists of about 1,400 people found that people who said they engaged in enjoyable leisure activities had higher levels of happy hormone serotonin, lower blood pressure, total cortisol, waist circumference and body mass index- wow! Find an activity that you can be completely immersed in that makes you feel some sort of joy. It may be a creative endeavour, an active activity, or something that involves learning. Some examples include: Crochet, sewing, cooking, woodwork, bird watching, stamp collecting, scrap booking, painting, language, gardening, makeup/hair/nails, family trees, reading history, hiking, dancing, music.
7. Spend time in nature:
Going for a walk in nature can significantly reduce feelings of anxiety and enhance moods and memory. Even for those who live in a city, research shows that just walking in a park or along a tree lined street can create these same benefits. 20 minutes a day outside:
-Boosts positive moods
-Improves working memory
5 ways that SBN can help boost happiness!
Slim By Nature is about more than just rapid and lasting weight loss (although this is also a wonderful key benefit of our detoxes)! We strive to provide an experience that is truly holistic through wholesome food, education, movement, and wonderful products that promote a range of health benefits beyond simply burning fat. Below we outline the ways that Slim By Nature can help to boost your happiness:
1.Wholesome food intake:
The food we eat plays a significant role in our happiness! The ‘Approved Foods List’ that is central to our holistic detox programs overlaps with the general rules of thumb for a diet that supports happiness. Research shows that those who consume higher levels of fresh, plant based whole foods (vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts and seeds to ensure we consume all the nutrients needed to produce happy hormones and energy) and avoid processed and inflammatory foods (such as packaged foods, processed meat, fried foods, saturated fats and sugar) are significantly happier (amongst many other health benefits).
2. Detox Drop and Patch Ingredients:
Our Detox Drops and Patches have been designed to promote fat burning, balance hunger and cravings, and support detoxification channels of the body. But did you know that their ingredients have secondary actions that help to increase serotonin and happiness! This is true of many ingredients, specifically L-Theanine, which is well known for increasing moods, reducing stress/anxiety, boosting cognition, and enhancing sleep by increasing levels of the ‘happy hormones’ serotonin, dopamine, and GABA.
3. SBN Teas
Just like our Detox Drops and patches, the ingredients of our Teas also have secondary actions that support happiness and healthy moods! This is the case for a range of herbal medicines in Our Liver Detox Tea, Fat Burning Tea, Colon Cleanse Tea, and Anti-Inflammatory Tea, such as Licorice, Turmeric, Calendula, Fennel, and many more!
4. Social Support (Private Facebook Group):
Feeling as though we have people in our lives to turn to for support is a significant factor in our levels of happiness. One study found that perceptions of social support were responsible for 43% of a person’s level of happiness. Our Private facebook group is full of over 7,000 women who are full of care, energy and support to not only help you on your detox journey, but to also help you feel happier and more joyful along the way!
5. Pre-Detox Course:
Our New Pre-Detox Course will be live in early 2022 and will be will be ready to help you achieve your goals! We have poured endless hours of love and work into creating this course to help you best prepare for your detox and reap the best results! This detox-preparation period not only addresses food organisation, but also movement, mindset, stress management and a range of other factors that have been shown to boost levels of happiness!
We hope you feel knowledgeable and empowered, and ready to implement some fun strategies to supercharge your emotions and experience higher levels of happiness!