Happy 2014

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Beatles

Beatles

I love the Beatles as much as the next guy; maybe even more. But current research clearly demonstrates that there is quite a bit more to Happiness than a ‘warm gun.

(For those of you who may not be up on your Beatle lyrics, I’m referring to a son, written by John Lennon, off their eponymous double-disc album “The Beatles,” also known as “The White Album.”)

I think attitude and perspective are major players in people’s lives, but many times it is way too easy to ignore our hard-wiring, our genetic make-up. It seems the happiness-DNA connection hasn’t gotten much of a voice, but in their article “Genetic Influences on Psychological Well-Being: A Nationally Representative Twin Study.” that appeared in April 2013’s Journal of Personality, researchers Thomas M. Olino,
C. Emily Durbin, Daniel N. Klein, Elizabeth P. Hayden and Margaret W. Dyson found that up to 50 percent of our happiness could be linked to the way we are ‘hard-wired.’

What makes happiness really difficult to pin down and research is how subjective it is, but researchers are far from throwing in the towel.

I’ve found some new and ‘quirky’ leads on happiness and for some reason they haven’t been given top billing. Being that I live in a part of the world where we still have two full months of winter ahead of us and last night’s temps reached below zero again, I for one, can use as much help and direction for pick-me-ups as I can find.

Here are five pieces of information about happiness I was not aware of, that I hope warm a cockle or two of your heart as well:

• A Degree of Happiness – 57.02 degrees Fahrenheit
According to a study out of Osaka University in Japan, the correlation between a person’s environmental temperature and happiness was researched. The winner, not the mild temps of tropical islands as once thought, but a milder, balmy 57.02 degrees was found to produce the highest number of happy people. I’m still have quite a way to go, but once we get through this artic freeze, its not as far away from 57.02 as say 70 or 75.
• Happy Music for our Happy Feet
Not only does listening to ‘happy’ music help elevate the mood, it also stimulates what scientists refer to as the “reward” part of the brain. I know we are being a bit subjective here when we say ‘happy’ music, but that goes with the turf. Lyrics and combinations of sounds are so varied this is likely to remain quite subjective. What is no longer subjective is the scientific backing.

Possum Sniffing Flowers

Possum Sniffing Flowers

• The Nose Knows
Dr. Jeannette Haviland-Jones, a professor of psychology at Rutgers University in New Jersey determined that there is a connection between happiness and floral scented odors. With the advances in fragrances available, we can sniff a little happiness into our day.
• Yes … Master
Remember that saying about being a ‘Jack of all trades but master of none?’ Well, according to a 2009 study, Jack would not have been a very happy boy. Although there is a certain amount of stress associated with pushing oneself to
master an activity, the long term benefit of knowing we really “got this”
(whatever the activity,) leads to feelings of happiness.
* Giving vs. Receiving
Its true…its true! A 2012 study confirms that both mean and women feel happier after purchasing something for someone else than when they buy something for themselves. Although there isn’t much more research other than confirming that
more people are happier giving gifts than receiving them, it will be interesting tosee what scientists find when they dig deeper into the whys and wherefores about this.

There are other new findings about happiness popping up through studies all the time. And without a doubt, the correlations between happiness (and other internal moods and emotions) and environmental stimuli (external factors) will grow as far as researcher’s imaginations can take them.

Humans may be simple on some level, but extremely unique and individualized on others. We are a combination of our hard-wiring (genetics or nature) and our environment (nurture). The discussion will continue through the ages.

Whatever the outcome of the study being conducted, we are human…we are made up of both, internal and external factors in various combinations. And there are many things we can do to improve our lives, make ourselves more of the people we want to become, reach our goals and fuller potentials.

Serenity Prayer

Serenity Prayer

The key to it all, for me, is found when we live what is known by millions as the Serenity Prayer. We ask for courage to change what we can (external, nurture) acceptance for who we are and for what is (internal, nature) and finally, the ability and wisdom to be able to know the difference so we can avoid the frustration and failures that come from trying to change things that are hard-wired and pretty much just the way they are.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

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