Did you know that, contrary to its superstitious legacy, Friday, 13 September 2019 is also Positive Thinking Day and a time to concentrate on all things positive? But according to the World Health Organisation depression will be the greatest cause of disability worldwide by 2020 – that’s next year! The question then is, are we getting sadder, or are our expectations just too high?
Frame Of Mind
It’s important to first define “mood”. We’re not talking about a debilitating psychological disorder, but rather the day-to-day moodiness we all experience on occasion. Different to the concept of emotion, and perhaps contrary to the intensity of mood disorders, our frame of mind is most often described as good or bad, positive or negative, happy, sad or neutral.
There’s increasing pressure on people to be consistently happy and fulfilled, but is it really possible to be happy all the time? Philosophers dictate that valleys are just as important as peaks, and so too, doctors have touted illness as good news – it’s a healthy body’s way of communicating an imbalance. And now researchers have found that the social expectation of people to be happy, and not negative, actually enhances negativity and leads to more intense and frequent bouts of sadness.
Unless you’re a teenager in the midst of hormonal mayhem, you’re probably mostly attracted to people with smiling faces, and you probably care how others perceive your mood. Research shows that adults tend to seek out people who will lift their mood, while younger adults look for people who share or enhance their own prevailing mood – in other words, a depressed youngster will seek out other depressed people, whereas a sad senior will try to find cheerful people.
The Negative Impact Of Stress On Our Health
Nearly 30 years ago, Time magazine headlined stress as the epidemic of the 80s. It doesn’t look like the epidemic has abated, and more and more stress-related conditions are being recognised.
The word “stress” is bandied about with alarming frequency and seems to be an accepted norm in modern life. But with it comes a string of associated conditions and diseases, and the subsequent medication of these diseases. With depression becoming a more than common occurrence, often with debilitating consequences, trying to enhance your mood may no longer merely be the pursuit of happiness, but rather a matter of survival. The delicate balance and efficacy of neurotransmitters in our brains have much to do with our mood states. If something’s out of balance, chaos can ensue with out-of-control emotions and physical side effects.
What makes us happy? Money, love, wisdom, long life? The concept of wealth bringing happiness has been definitively debunked by researchers who found that people exaggerate the effects of income on personal happiness.
Many studies have been done on what makes people happy and conclusions are often vague, as if there’s a key question that hasn’t been asked. Most often, a good mood is defined as feeling jocular, playful and full of vitality.
What makes you happy or sad is entirely down to who you are, your own unique circumstances, state of health and being. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you should have or should do something in order to be happy, though. Honestly assess your life and delve into what actually makes you smile and lifts your mood.
Like the rock band U2 sings, “some days are better than others”. We all experience a range of moods, quite naturally, and for all manner of reasons. In the absence of a pre-existing chronic mood disorder, maintaining a balanced temper or a prevailing light disposition simply requires the correct balance of nutrition, physical exercise, mental stimulation and supplementation. Should you have a down day, remember that it may just be your body’s way of communicating, so be grateful you’re in touch.
Here Are 7 Ways To Find The Funny
1. Surround yourself with positive people: Our moods are contagious, so being with folk who look on the bright side promotes positivity.
2. Remember the good times: Whether it’s through photos, a diary, or videos, recalling a funny incident triggers happy emotions – hence our love of long-standing family jokes!
3. Make laughter a daily habit, even when alone: Smile at yourself broadly in the mirror first thing every morning: it encourages a light-hearted attitude to whatever the day may hold.
4. Meditate: It’s thought the feeling of calmness following meditation leads to better perspective… and out of that so often comes humour. You could also, of course, focus on an image of something funny when you meditate – it’s a win-win!
5. Get active: It’s well documented that exercise releases those feel-good hormones – and you only need to do it for 10 minutes a day to feel the energising effects. Double the spirit-lifting quota with ‘happy’ classes, like Zumba or salsa.
6. Get a pet: Dogs and cats are known for their amusing quirks, guaranteed to raise a smile. The knock-on effect is that people with pets have lower levels of depression and stress-induced diseases, too. Can’t commit to a pet? Offer to dog-sit or walk a pooch.
7. Spend time with children: Little ones find uncomplicated joy in the simplest things: can anyone resist laughing when a baby giggles with sheer pleasure, or a toddler comes out with a hilarious observation? If no babies are to hand, you’ll find plenty of clips on YouTube!
DISCLAIMER: You must not rely on the information on this website/newsletter as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.