As the late Muhammad Ali said, “Don’t count the days; make the days count.” Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. Some people wake up and growl at the prospects of their day…that indicates directly how their day will go. Then there are some who greet the day with smiles, gratitude and curiosity – that is scientifically a more healthy approach. I choose to open my eyes, throw off the covers, and jump into the day.
When you approach each new day with anticipation, have winning thoughts and expect good outcomes, your brain acts accordingly. Professor Shimon Edelman, Department of Psychology at Cornell University, believes that the brain “values positive outcomes.”
Our brains want us to be happy. Happiness is knowing that you don’t have to be perfect; you just need to be yourself.
Scientific research proves, “positive, happy people are more likely to perform better at their jobs and are less likely to be unemployed,” according to Napoleon Hill and Thomas C. Corley.
I have witnessed this myself: Teaching morning yoga classes, I am fortunate to share smiles, asanas (poses), and philosophies with my students. I can see how, after a few minutes, their bodies and thoughts are more at ease, and the connection to the exercises is internalized. Even newbies to yoga are smiling at the end of the hour.
Many people and much research confirm that morning exercise stimulates happy hormones. Happy hormones generally refer to endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. Technically, some of these are neurotransmitters and not hormones, but we needn’t bother ourselves with those scientific details. I’m leaving out adrenaline (also called epinephrine) which stimulates a fight-or-flight response. Adrenaline doesn’t make us happy, just highly excitable! After elevating your heart-rate, stretching and moving for at least an hour, you feel energized and ready to seize the day. Conversely, if the stress hormone cortisol kicks in, then your day will likely turn out differently. Even lifting the small muscles on the east and west corners of your mouth will initiate a good outcome.
I recently introduced a new exercise programme to my regimen. At Yas Marina Circuit, some people ride bicycles and run around the race track; I joined a group who run up and down the stairs of the stands. In between the sprints, jumps and crisscrosses, we did lunges, jumping rope, sit-ups and planks, sets of push-ups and partner squats. I felt happy and energized afterwards and slept like a baby.
My mantra expanded from “never limit myself” to include “never give up.” This will help me in future trekking adventures. Try something new, shake up your fitness goals, push yourself and your muscles.
The element of surprise is another great way to increase one’s happy factor. I was treated to morning tea by a friend. The joy of her friendship makes me happy, and when she added a special treat, I gasped in delight. On the tray, in a lovely china dish, she had caviar alongside the fruit, cheese and crackers. That added another element of happiness, to be sure. Chatting over tea and delicacies makes this expat very happy.
Spending quality time with friends raises the happiness quotient. As global citizens, it is very important to nurture friendships and take advantage of all opportunities to explore the city and be together.
One more Muhammad Ali quote that made me smile: “I’m so fast, I can play ping-pong by myself!” He taught us many ways to be happy and confident. If you don’t take yourself too seriously, you’ll find joys in the smallest things.
Exercises, boat rides, yoga classes, tea parties, and good friends all increase the serotonin hormone, so go out, have FUN and remember to live happy.